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'Final Destination'

Walter Addiego
OF THE EXAMINER STAFF
  March 17, 2000

FOR A GRAND total of about 10 minutes, "Final Destination" - which aims to start a new franchise in the teen slasher/"Nightmare on Elm Street" mode - offers some grisly, stupid fun.

Amid all the picture's rote gotcha stuff, several of the creepy killings show a thimbleful of imagination. (And, yes, it IS a crummy subject for creative effort.) These scenes involve household objects rigged up, with morbid wit, into convoluted Rube Goldberg death machines.

The sequences pack a bit of a jolt and are funny/awful - whereas the dialogue and acting, as so often in these efforts, are merely awful. (This plot gimmick, by the way, registers low on the originality meter: An ancient "Twilight Zone" episode covered the same territory, less explicitly, in a brisk half-hour.)

The set-up: High-school senior Alex (an underwhelming Devon Sawa of "S.L.C. Punk"), seated in a jumbo jet for his class trip to Paris, has a detailed vision of the plane crashing. When he raises a ruckus, he and several other students are removed from the plane - and watch in horror as his premonition comes true.

The survivors are cookie-cutter refugees from dozens of "Halloween" and Wes Craven movies: Among them are a brainy bohemian girl (Ali Larter), a hothead (Kerr Smith) who drives a muscle car, the class goofball (Seann William Scott) and a scrappy female teacher (Kristen Cloke).

You know the characters and where they're going: They'll be dispatched in the gross and bloody ways beloved of the male teen demographic. Our hero Alex, under suspicion for the plane crash, sees a pattern in the killings and believes he can predict the next victim - and that if the survivors can break the pattern, they may make it to the sequel suggested by the ending.

A sequel to "Final Destination": Now there's a thought to curl up with at night.

Director and co-writer James Wong, who worked on TV's "X-Files," pads things with too much teen horseplay, though he does show a talent for building up to gut-grabbing payoffs.

P.S.: In a nice, small touch that shows at least one of the writers has done some homework, characters are named for classic horror producer Val Lewton ("Cat People," "The Leopard Man") and director Tod Browning ("Freaks").

But then, how smart is it for the makers of this movie to invoke their betters?

Movie Review

'Final Destination'

CAST Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Seann William Scott

DIRECTOR James Wong

WRITERS Glenn Morgan, James Wong and Jeffrey Reddick

RATING R

THEATERS Metreon, AMC 1000, Kabuki, Century Plaza (South San Francisco)

EVALUATION * 1/2


 
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"Beyond the Mat"
Depressing but great. (Chron)
Too close-up. (Ex)

"Erin Brockovich"
All Julia. (Chron)
Loose. (Ex)

"Final Destination"
Stylish. (Chron)
Stupid. (Ex)

"Ghost Dog"
Amazing. (Chron)
Cryptic. (Ex)

"Mifune"
Vital. (Chron)
Chaotic. (Ex)

"Pants on Fire"
Not too clever. (Chron)


Cool stuff galore in Epicks.
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