David R. Ellis
A.J. Cook - Kimberly Corman
Michael Landes - Officer Burke
Ali Larter - Clear Rivers
T.C. Carson - Eugene
Jonathan Cherry - Rory
Justina Machado - Isabelle Hudson
Tony Todd - Bludworth
Genre - Horror/Slasher/Supernatural
Running Time - 91 Minutes
Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4
Death never takes a vacation. I mean, how can he when there's so much work to be done each and every second of the day? I really don't know how he does it without breaking a sweat. You would think he's kind of frustrated at this point, wanting a break of not killing anyone for a couple of hours. Maybe that's why he tries to kill the characters in these FINAL DESTINATION movies in one fell swoop, annihilating them at once so he can have a smoke and booze break for a half hour or so.
But then again, someone just has to screw it up by having a premonition of their death, cheating Death's plan and surviving longer than they should have due to selfishness. No wonder Death is so pissed off. Especially in 2003's FINAL DESTINATION 2, where the deaths are more gruesome and in-your-face than the previous installment. While this is all fine and dandy, it seems Death killed some of the screenplay in the process. Oh well, at least this sequel is still a fun time for the most part.
On the one-year-anniversary of Flight 180's explosion [from the original film], Kimberly (A.J. Cook) and her friends decide to head to Daytona for some Spring Break action. Once they make it on to the freeway, Kimberly is suddenly hit with a vision of an insane car pile-up that will kill her, her friends, and countless others in the span of 2 minutes. Freaked out by her premonition, Kimberly stalls and blocks the vehicles of those who died in her vision. Officer Burke (Michael Landes) thinks that Kimberly just had a bad dream, but is corrected when the accident does happen - saving the lives of everyone but Kimberly's friends, who end up dying anyway.
During the interrogation at the police station, Kimberly explains that what she sensed was similar to what happened with Flight 180 - knowing that she and the lives she saved will end up being picked off one by one. The survivors, besides Officer Burke, don't believe Kimberly and just continue with their lives. However, when the survivors start having really weird deaths, the premonition doesn't seem so unbelievable. With the help of an institutionalized Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), the only survivor of Flight 180, Kimberly and Officer Burke decide to figure out Death's design in order to take themselves off the list.
Sequels are an iffy thing. Most of them are hardly needed, but it's a common fact that once a film makes a ton of money or has cult success, a follow-up will be made to continue the story. Some sequels actually exceed the original [THE GODFATHER PART II, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, SPIDER-MAN 2, X2: X-MEN UNITED, THE DARK KNIGHT] while most of the time, they don't live up to the original's standards. FINAL DESTINATION 2 falls in the latter. Yes, it's a fun flick. Yes, it's gorier and more over-the-top than the original. Yes, it's more fast paced and action packed. But there's something missing from this sequel that makes it lesser in comparison to the original.
I think the culprit is really the story of FINAL DESTINATION 2. A number of factors comes into play here:
- The originality is gone. Now that we know what these FINAL DESTINATION films are all about, we know what to expect. What was once a complex and clever idea starts to grow a bit stale because we pretty much know how these characters are gonna die. In the original FINAL DESTINATION, the deaths had so many twist and turns that when you thought a character would die one way, he or she would die with another. In FINAL DESTINATION 2, it's the complete opposite. We are given hints as to how these characters will die and it takes away from the chase getting there. So the unpredictability factor is now gone and we're left with a regular slasher flick, but with a killer no one can stop. This sort of thing was gonna happen, but try and do something creative with an old trick to make it new again.
- The characters aren't that interesting really. I'm not saying that they're horrible, but I could have really cared less if Kimberly had saved them or not. They're not developed at all. Hell, they're not even stereotypes I can really relate to in some fashion. They're pretty much cookie cutter characters without depth. Hell, even Kimberly isn't all that developed and she's the main character! I knew nothing about her life, who she is, and why she even received this premonition. All I really knew is that she didn't want to die. The only ones I thought had depth were obvious Clear Rivers [just for the simple fact that we knew her from the first one and her transformation here is believable], the drug addict Rory, and the skeptic Eugene. Those characters I actually cared about because they had signs of personality. The other characters were just shallow. And when shallow characters die on my television screen, the impact is lessened because I don't feel bad for them. I'm actually glad they bit it.
- This film gives more questions than answers due to lack of explaining things. Why do people have premonitions of their deaths just so they can stop it? Why would Death allow people to change their set destinies in such a way? How does a new life reset Death's plan? Why would anyone put their arm through a sink that's wearing a watch, knowing their dumbass is gonna get stuck inside the hole? And since these characters already cheated death before, why did Death design a new plan for them where they would just cheat it all over again? There is a lot going on underneath the surface in FINAL DESTINATION 2 but the film doesn't really tell us anything that we want to know. I know people don't watch these films for some kind of message or information, but it helps keep my interest in a film. Cool gory scenes are great but even they get old after a while if there's no substance behind them.
I will give the story some credit. At least there was an attempt to steer away from the usual teen stereotypes, bringing aboard characters of all ages - that happened to be somewhat stereotypical. Also, the way this film is connected to the original is actually pretty well done considering the lack of depth involved. I wish that exposition scene on how these characters are related according to Death's design was a bit more fleshed out, maybe with visual flashbacks and such. But at least I understood why they were grouped together like this. And I gotta admit that some of the deaths are pretty clever and wicked. So it wasn't totally bad. It just needed a little work, that's all.
I think what FINAL DESTINATION 2 is really known for is its death sequences. As of now, this film [to me] has the best deaths in the franchise. The opening sequence with the accident on the highway is still an awesome and well-directed sequence where people get killed in vicious ways and explosions just add on to the fun. I also love the glass panel death from above [try watching it in slow motion - yes, I can be sick like that but it's so freakin' cool] and the airbag death [ouch]. I still find the Evan death ridiculous just because he was such a dumbass, but the final result with the fire escape ladder through the eye is such nice frosting on that cupcake. The visual effects team really did a beautiful job here and these demises, while predictable, still make the film a lot of fun to watch.
Director David R. Ellis, who is a stunt coordinator and a second unit AD for tons of stuff, does a great job creating an effective thrill ride. The film is quickly paced so you never get bored. The cinematography is beautiful at times, with the gloomy tones and colors that create a creepy and downbeat mood most of the time. The composition of his shots are wonderful, as the set pieces really look great on film and keep you stimulated the entire time. The only thing he needed to work on here was telling a better story because I was never sure who was supposed to die when and where like the first FINAL DESTINATION. I think if he cleared this up a bit, the film would have been a bit better. But other than that, I had no problems with the direction here.
The actors are good for the most part. A.J. Cook is very cute and I liked her performance as Kimberly. She cried on cue and looked scared believably. I just wish I liked her character more or knew more about her. But Cook makes the most of what she has and does a good job by giving the character more depth than what was put on paper. Ali Larter is great again as Clear Rivers, bringing a more gloomy aura to her previous performance in FINAL DESTINATION. T.C. Carson as the tightass skeptic Eugene brings depth to a role that probably didn't deserve it. Carson makes you believe why Eugene's full of disbelief, as well as bringing out the denial and fear of a man who constantly needs to be in control and is afraid of losing it. Jonathan Cherry was also pretty funny as the junkie, Rory. The rest of the actors didn't really impress me as much, but that was because they really didn't have much to work with.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE NEVER CHASING AFTER PIGEONS AGAIN
- Kimberly knows how to drive stick shift. In that case, she drive my stick - and shift it until it explodes!
- A huge log cut loose and flew into the windshield of Burke's police car, smashing his face in. That explains the obvious plastic surgery on Jenna Jameson's face after so many years in porn.
- Cheating death is like having that Diff'rent Strokes curse. Ya know - doing porn, killing yourself, doing bad reality shows, and getting abused by your much taller wife? Yeah...I'll take death, thanks.
- Evan is a bad cook. He spills oil all over the place, doesn't check to see if there is a magnet in his microwavable food, and then lets his food burn while his arm is stuck inside the sink's drain due to his watch. If he were on Iron Chef America, his secret ingredient would be Chop Suey!
- Kimberly was offended by Clear's lack of enthusiasm to help her, calling her a coward and giving her the middle finger. I wouldn't mess with Clear. She used to have superstrength, she can freeze people at times, and she whooped Beyonce's ass. This bitch don't play!
- At the dentist's office, Tim said that if he's given the gas and his pants are unbuttoned when he wakes up, then he's not paying. Oh Tim, the sexual favor will cover all the costs of the appointment. Unless she's a female dentist. Then there could be a possible debt within 9 months. Oooh baby!
- Nora got killed when the Jaws of Life tried to free her from being trapped inside a car, unleashing the airbag which impaled her skull into a sharp object sticking out behind her on impact. So you're saying her face was between a white sack while she was impaled by a white stick? Didn't the same thing happen at her prom?
- Don't ever barbecue after someone saved your life from certain death. Your second chance at life may blow up in your face. Literally.
THE FINAL HOWL
While flawed compared to the original, FINAL DESTINATION 2 is still a fun flick to watch every once in a while. It's quick, the set pieces are well done, and the gore is top notch. If you're looking for substance, this is not your film. But if you're looking for death sequences you'll want to watch over and over again, make a stop at FINAL DESTINATION 2.