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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Final Destination [Blu-ray]

 

(James Wong, 2000)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: New Line: A Zide/Perry Production

Blu-ray: New Line Home Entertainment (Canadian)

 

Disc:

Region: FREE!

Runtime: 1:38:02.001

Disc Size: 22,784,227,764 bytes

Feature Size: 20,306,337,792 bytes

Average Bitrate: 27.62 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 7th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1 Video

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1644 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1644 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround

 

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, Spanish & German

 

Extras:

• Filmmaker's Commentary: Director, Producer, Writers, Editor

• Actor's Commentary: Sawa, Smith, Cloke, Danella

• Isolated Film Score with Commentary by Composer Shirley Walker

• Documentary: The Perfect Soufflé: Testing Final Destination (13:25)

• Documentary: Premonitions (19:40)

• Deleted Scenes & Alternate Ending (8:15)

 

 

The Film:

The question that writers James Wong and Glen Morgan ask in apparent innocence and seriousness is this: Is there a plan to our lives, specifically in regards our time line? If we choose this or that action, no matter how seemingly innocent, does it not have a consequential effect on that time line? The answer, of course, is yes. But that still leaves the other question: Is there a plan, and if so, is it something we can alter deliberately? Final Destination, a cleverly grisly title when you think about it, keeps the discussion in terms that your average high schooler might address it. Free Will and Fatalism, on the other hand, are not concepts that flow trippingly off the brain stem. What does flow are some pretty good special effects and sharp editing, creating suspenseful tension that succeeds in its intent to keep us searching the frame for where the next catastrophe will come from – the first time through, anyhow.


The Movie: 7
Young Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) is all geared up to join some forty other classmates for his high school sponsored holiday in Paris. Wow! Problem is that Alex has visions, waking dreams, premonitions of disaster that become all the more intense just after boarding the plane. Next thing you know he's Charles Grodin in Midnight Run, hysterically screaming that the plane is headed for a fall. A fight breaks out with his chronic nemesis, Carter Horton (Kerr Smith) and both kids are escorted off the plane along with a few of their buddies and a teacher or two.

Minutes later the plane fulfils its destiny, but instead of seeing Alex as a savior, everyone thinks of him as a freak and a pariah. Everyone except Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), who hardly knows Alex yet feels a psychic connection. FBI agents Weine & Schreck (Daniel Robuck & Roger Guenveur Smith), who seem to be in this movie for comic effect (just look at those names), dog Alex's heels as one after the other of the survivors are dispatched, and rather unpleasantly at that. Is Alex the culprit, or does Death have a design?
 


 

 

Image: 5/7    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

While there is the occasional moment of clarity (as when the lighting is just right), for the most part the image here is soft and fuzzy – by which I do not mean comfortable and reassuring, but rather: lacking resolution. If the problem were only in its being grainy -
alas, not. The picture seems to be hanging on for dear life, which is not all that apparent in the caps. This is especially true in darker scenes where a kind of vague noise makes it difficult to see into the shadows. Edge enhancement is visible at times but is not nearly as troublesome as the foggy filters. Bit rates hover around the mid-20s.

By the way, I included an amusing pair of caps just before and after the airport terminal window disintegrates from the blast of the plane. Note the fellow in the first frame in the center behind the row of chairs. He's doing a North by Northwest anticipating the crash of glass by starting to duck before his cue.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 6/8
The audio mix, though lacking the crispness or dynamic whack of the best horror flics is acceptable enough. Dialogue is clearly placed in the front, the music opens things up a bit, as do the effects, though the latter does not always locate events in the surround as neatly as hoped (I'm thinking of the on-board airplane catastrophe), on the other hand some of the more at home intimate scaries have us looking left, right, up down and across. I should add that the idea and execution of the explosion of the plane seen and heard from a distance is only one of several very nice touches of horror this movie holds for us.
 

Operations: 7
I have not been able to duplicate the problem I was having initially accessing a scene from the chapters menu, but aside from that glitch, I liked the amount of descriptive summary for each of the special features.

Extras: 7
This little B-picture sports not one, but three commentaries, all of them worth your time for different reasons. Perhaps the most unlikely is the Isolated Film Score with commentary by composer Shirley Walker, which is really listing the matter in reverse order of importance, since Ms. Walker's comments are continuous and informative about the compositional process. She pauses herself allowing for full rendering of the cues which, heard in this format, tell us how talented this woman is. The actors' commentary is a roundtable reminiscence full of good humor. The filmmakers' commentary is about what you'd expect, except that there is the occasional uncensored remark about comparisons to how similar movies are directed. The Perfect Soufflé is the kind of featurette I don't recall seeing before – and it's a good one: a candid examination of how movies are road tested in front of likely audiences – or not, and what decisions might be made about content given their comments. This dovetails nicely into the Deleted Scenes & Alternate Ending – and we can see why. Premonitions is a documentary narrated by Pam Coronado, who not only has, but investigates paranormal experiences.

 

Bottom line: 7
OK, It's silly and far fetched... but there's something engaging about this movie. Perhaps it's simply the attraction of the idea that we can influence our final destiny. The director has a canny way, both mathematically and graphically, of insisting we search for how death will come for us. And it's nice that there are a couple of kids that aren't a complete waste of brain space. The audio is decent; the extra features very good. Too bad about the less than satisfactory image.

Leonard Norwitz
April 16th, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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