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Final Destination (***)
Directed by James Wong
Written by Glen Morgan and Jeffrey Reddick
Final Destination
 
Principal Cast
Devon Sawa -- Alex Browning
Ali Larter -- Clear Rivers
Kerr Smith -- Carter Horton
Kristen Cloke -- Valerie Lewton
Daniel Roebuck -- Agent Weine
Roger Guenveur Smith -- Agent Schreck
Chad Donella -- Tod Waggner
Seann William Scott -- Billy Hitchcock
Tony Todd (I) -- Bludworth
Amanda Detmer -- Terry Chaney
Ratings
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Final Destination is a kick.

This is the first film by Wong and Morgan who wrote such memorable X-Files as "Home" (****). I didn't realize that and almost skipped the movie, since I don't have much use for dead teen flicks. When the names Wong and Morgan came up in the opening credits, I was glad I had gone. And I was even gladder when the end credits rolled. Much more enjoyable than I had any reason to expect.

This is not the kind of movie where plot matters. Six teens (and one teacher) cheat death by getting off a plane just before it explodes on takeoff. It isn't nice to cheat Mr. Death, and death comes looking for them, one by one.

Timing is everything in a film like this, and exaggeration is essential. You know someone is going to die, but it has to come at the moment you least expect it. Then, in retrospect, the moment has to seem exactly right. Wong and Morgan are just over-the-top enough, while keeping the characters sensible and sympathetic.

Most critics treat all such movies with equal contempt. Ebert liked this one, but Ebert has the advantage of having been an SF fan while he was growing up. In the view of the archetypical film critic, there are only two virtues in a film. Characterization is one. The other is obscurity. A critic loves a film that he is the only one smart enough to appreciate. As those of you who have been following this column know, I like a film to be fun.

Don't let the bad reviews keep you from enjoying Final Destination.


P.S. on the Oscars.

Denzel was robbed. And "Blame Canada" should have gotten best song. And I don't care what anyone says, Star Wars - The Phantom Menace (****) had better special effects than The Matrix (****). Those were two of my favorite films of 1999. American Beauty won the Oscar, a film about a middle age man in love with a teen-age cheerleader. He buys $2000/ounce marijuana and won't give her a puff. How unrealistic can you get? If it had been up to me, I would have given the best picture Oscar to either Disney's Tarzan (****) or to South Park - Bigger, Longer and Uncut (****). But I don't get a vote.

Copyright © 2000 by Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.


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