Sunday, May 20, 2007

[DVD] Final Destination (2000)

Look Up in the Sky!

I watched Final Destination 3 without watching the first two, so thanks to DVDs, I'm going to make amends. The most I know about the first Final Destination was that explosion onboard an aircraft was one of the most realistic ever, and probably had this movie banned from inflight entertainment systems.

Alex Chance Browning (Devon Sawa) has a fear of flights, and in his class outing to Paris, he had a premonition about the flight going boom, and created enough a ruckus to have him thrown out of the plane, together with a few of his friends and teacher. Naturally he becomes guilt ridden, and prime suspect when the plane explodes mid-air without a clue as to why (following the actual TWA flight 800). Together with Clear Rivers (what a name, played by Ali Larter), they discover that if they were destined to die in that flight, then Death will soon be on his way to complete his mission, in the order that they were supposed to go.

It brings to mind that our deaths are probably pre-ordained the moment we are born, and death has designed the way we have to go too. The premise is that should you beat that design, then you get a second chance. But are we up to that? Nope, because we want to see how the cardboard characters get sent on their way. However, the deaths presented here aren't really horrific or designed with grandeur, probably because they don't age so well over time. They do seem rather gimmicky in today's context.

Not expecting an adrenaline rush each time the characters die or beat death, the plot does get slowed down because of the romance bit between Alex and Clear (and most ended up on the cutting room floor), so they do come across pretty jarringly. And the group size for death is relatively small, so you don't go beyond that number, including survivors. It's a pretty decent thriller, but a reminder that the nature of these thrillers is that they age quite badly over time.

The Code 1 DVD by New Line Home Video comes with animated menus, and presents the movie in widescreen version, with audio in either in 5.1 Dolby Surround, or 2.0 Stereo Surround. Visual transfer and audio quality are what you come to expect from a decent product, although subtitles are available in English only. Scene selections are available over 19 chapters

There are plenty of extras given that it's only 1 disc, though most of them are in the commentaries. 3 are provided, 1 by the filmmakers James Wong (director/co-writer), Glen Morgan (co-writer), James Coblentz (editor) and Jeffrey Reddick (co-writer), 1 by the team of cast Devon Sawa, Kerr Smith, Kristin Cloke and Chad E. Donnella, and 1 by the film composer Shirley Walker with the 5.1 Dolby Surround audio score.

The cast and crew biography just lists down their filmography, and the theatrical trailer is also included. There are 3 deleted scenes packed into the DVD, but these all belong to the subplot of new life, which didn't make the final cut after test audience screenings. The Alternate Love Scene runs 2:53, Pregnancy Test runs 0:20 and the Alternate Ending clocks in at 5:05.

To find out why the decision to change, you'll have to watch the first documentary which tells of the test screenings conducted prior to the movie's release. Don't watch this before you watch the movie, as there are tons of spoilers. Containing interviews with the filmmakers and marketing folks, you'll come to wonder about the dumbing down of the (target) audience, so subtlety for the finale makes way for stuff in more in your face. Clocks in at 13:20.

The second documentary seemed a little misplaced, though you'd come to understand why it was included. About Premonitions, it tells of the life and experiences of psychic Pam Coronado, an intuitive investigator who explains her abilities as well as the cases she had worked on, together with those of her children (which would make more sense if the movie kept the original ending). Clocks in at 19:38.

To cap it, 2 games are provided, one is a death clock which predicts the exact date and time of your death based on a series of questions to find out your profile (mine's in 2028!), while the other is a test of your psychic abilities. Not to be taken seriously of course.
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