Final Destination 2

on January 31, 2003 by Michael Tunison
In the "Final Destination" films, as in real life, everybody is heading toward the same basic end--it's just a question of whether they'll get there by being blown up, impaled or smashed to bits. The difference is that in this modestly budgeted horror franchise, Death's goal is apparently not only to end lives, but to insult viewers' intelligence in the bargain.

Carefully replicating the formula of its profitable 2000 predecessor, "Destination 2" follows another young person (A.J. Cook from "The Virgin Suicides") whose timely premonition of impending doom prevents a group of people from dying in a disastrous accident--in this case, a horrific freeway pileup. Once again, the way in which these mismatched strangers have "cheated" Death obliges the intangible, malevolent force to create elaborate Rube Goldberg scenarios in which the destiny-dodgers can violently perish one by one (no simple heart attacks or brain aneurisms for these folks!). To tie the sequel into the series, Cook's heroine eventually tracks down the sole survivor of the original film's cast (a still unconvincing Ali Larter), who becomes the group's self-appointed expert on "fighting" their all-powerful enemy.

Unable to make sense of the script's ridiculous blathering on about Death's convoluted grand design and the means by which the characters think they might be able to avoid it, director David R. Ellis ("Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco") concentrates his energies on the complicated horror-action set pieces that are the film's main attraction. While the helmer occasionally creates amusing moments with his depiction of a lethal world spring-loaded with dangers at every turn, many of the deaths themselves fall flat even on the audience-pandering level, mainly because almost all of them follow the same pattern (build-up, barely avoiding a deadly situation, then an ironic-twist coda kill).

As with the first film, the moviegoers most likely to enjoy this aggressively stupid sequel will be those lovers of over-the-top gore effects who cheer out loud when a character is sliced into three pieces that slowly slide apart. You know who you are. Starring Ali Larter, A J Cook, Michael Landes, T C Carson, Jonathan Cherry, Keegan Connor Tracy and Tony Todd. Directed by David R. Ellis. Written by J. Mackye Gruber and Eric Bress. Produced by Warren Zide and Craig Perry. A New Line release. Horror. Rated R for strong violence, gruesome accidents, language, drug content and some nudity. Running time: 90 min

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