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Movie Review

Final Destination a.k.a. “Destino final,” “Destination finale,” “Destination ultime,” “Fainaru desutinêshon,” “Final Destination - viimeinen määränpää,” “Flight 180,” “O Último Destino,” “Oszukac przeznaczenie,” “Premonição,” “Put bez povratka,” “Son durak,” “Végsö állomás,” “Vlepo to thanato sou

MPAA Rating: R for violence and terror, and for language.

Reviewed by: Carole Stewart McDonnell
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Horror, Thriller
Length:
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
2000
USA Release:
March 17, 2000
Copyright, New Line Cinema click photos to ENLARGE
Relevant Issues
Ali Larter in Final Destination. Copyright, New Line Cinema
Films in this series
  1. Final Destination (2000)
  2. Final Destination 2 (2003)
  3. Final Destination 3 (2006)
  4. The Final Destination (2009)
  5. Final Destination 5 (2011)

Death in the Bible

Final judgment

Questions and answers about Hell

Questions and answers about Jesus

Questions and answers about the Bible

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

God’s sovereignty, election, and man’s free will—what does the Bible say? Answer

Does the Bible allow for the possibility of reincarnation? Answer

What is the being of light encountered in near death experiences? Answer

What should a Christian do if overwhelmed by depression? Answer

VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Featuring: Devon Sawa, Seann W. Scott, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Chad E. Donella
Director: James Wong
Producer: Warren Zide, Craig Perry, Glen Morgan
Distributor: New Line Cinema

“Final Destination” is a movie which plays with the premise: what if your time had come and you somehow managed to trick death? What if the Earth behaved like the great fish that swallowed Jonah and tried to vomit you out… with electric wires, knives and other sharp implements acting as the vehicles of such menace? “Final Destination” is a teenage slasher film that concerns itself with this question and other spiritual matters such as fate, premonition and death. Complicated issues all. Who has not felt that she lives in a rhymed universe? We turn down a road we haven’t walked on in months and bump into an old friend who just happens to be in town for that one day? We feel that God planned a sweet surprise for us. But does God plan nasty surprises? Does he bring all the forces of the world in league with death to do us in? Does he “set us up”, so to speak, for malevolence? I think not.

In the film, Alex (Devon Sawa) and his classmates—a curiously Caucasian bunch of people, considering the high school is located around New York City—are preparing for a flight to France. Alex can’t quite shake an eerie feeling: something just doesn’t feel right. Signs and portents are everywhere. True, they might be misinterpretations brought on by pre-flight jitters, the teenage obsession with death, and/or the prevalence of so many news stories about plane crashes. But Alex is wary. At last he boards the plane and has a startlingly realistic vision of the plane crash. Heeding his premonition, Alex manages to get his friends off the plane. One would think there would be great rejoicing. Well, there isn’t. Turns out saving seven people including his French teacher brings out everyone’s issues. There is survivor’s guilt: “Why did I live?” There is survivor’s outrage: “Why did YOU live?” There is people’s fear of the irrational (as exemplified by Alex). And then there is death, a malevolent irrational force out to destroy the people who escaped their appointed time. Survivors are picked off one by one, in especially nasty ways. Two FBI types are keeping watch on Alex because they suspect him of being the human cause of all the deaths. And Alex is all alone with his spiritual crisis, not a helpful parent or knowing clergy in sight. (A ridiculous grief expert appears early in the film, but is soon whisked away.) Like many troubled children in film, books and real life, Alex is left alone to figure out the spiritual world all by himself.

Many Christians will be offended by the movie’s attitude towards God, the typical pose of the arrogant thinker. And the “design” for death’s relentless march against the escapees is so dumb it will offend creative types who had hoped for some psychological or spiritual insightful reason as to why death kept pursuing these kids. Instead, we get something quite banal. Spiritually and creatively, this movie is unfulfilling. The ending made sense only in a cute funny way and the kneejerk disdain against God and the pseudo-deep judgments of Him shows a kind of unthinking spiritual sloth. A little daring cynicism in a teenage movie is okay. Teenage films are often about cynical posing, and even seasoned Christians get doubtful about God’s goodness at times. But God is implicitly and explicitly cursed in this film. He is judged as an (expletive)-up God, a God who has nothing better to do than to mess up the world.

The movie is aimed at a teenage market and so a teenage challenge to God for making the world as it is can be expected. Kids need to understand the world they live in, especially a world where death seems to be cruel, sudden meaningless and indiscriminate. But, the movie could have been more responsible. Kids are impressed by even the stupidest of movies. God is barely mentioned in the movie and the mention of Him is a judgment against His sanity. The remedy to Alex’s problem—if there is a remedy—is to be found in something quite simple, unspiritual and mechanical. (I left the theater giggling.) And in the end, there is no free will or God-with-us to pray to who can change the situation.

The movie does show how paranoid people can get when they live by signs and portents. The Bible says the Holy Spirit is our guide. It also says that God’s word is a light unto our feet. We are told in general what to avoid—drunkenness, the adulteresses’ house—and we are given a general idea of what will happen if we go down the wrong path. We are told to avoid divination and some of Alex’s signs come perilously close to fortune-telling. About death, Christians are also told that death is the great enemy of man and the Christian God is also the enemy of death. We know that Jesus holds the keys to death and hell, but He does not wield those keys maliciously. For those who fear death and become obsessive about it, we are told that God came to deliver those who lived in fear of death all their lives. The Lord also told us in The Lord’s Prayer to pray for our safety: “Deliver us from evil.” That is really all we can do when faced with the problem of accidents and sudden death. We are human and we may become as obsessed as Alex does in this film. But at least there is a dialogue going on with a God we consider good. God is in the picture. The good God is NOT in this picture. But what can be expected of a film made in a world full of slasher films and mass murders? The only thing that can be expected is that Death rules.

See our review of Final Destination 3


Viewer Comments
I saw this movie because it was the choice of the majority of the group I happened to be with at the time. I wound up getting scared out of my mind and had to visit the bathroom twice just to shake the sense back into myself. The gore and violence actually made me sick to my stomach at certain points. I found that it was in no way uplifting, it made God, life, Long Island, and teenagers ALL look bad. I would not recommend it at all, BUT if you must see it, keep in mind that it is a fiction movie made by people who are “ever seeing not percieving”. From a wordly perspective, it could be considered and interesting perspective or philosophy, but remember we are not of the world. This was a movie that made me decide never to see a movie the guys in my group wanted to see… I would not recommend it. My Ratings: [1½/2½]
—Nikki, age 16
I found this movie to be surprisingly twisted and creative for its genre and audience. The language was excessive, but in real life, teens talk that way, as might many of us if we were in the highly stressful, life-threatening situations in which these characters were placed. I found the undertaker to be almost a God-surrogate in his relation to the universe portrayed in this film, though his theories of humanity’s design as fated were somewhat minimal and did not particularly necessitate God. His description of one’s death as the summation of a mutable chain of random decisions and circumstances culminating in one final moment resembles philosophical arguments as to whether one’s path is predetermined or can be influenced subjectively. On a worrisome note, however, the cat-food scene may adversely affect younger viewers and I strongly recommend that parents who own cats discuss with their children the impropriety of eating cat food.
—Herverth, age 44
…contains plenty of gore (bloody scenes and the like) which are very graphic, violence (all the death scenes here are very violent in nature!), some foul language, and one scene of brief nudity (full upper portion of female) when Alex glances at a pornographic magazine. Death is not represented in any bodily form in this movie like the grim reaper. Rather, it is an invisible being that actively and violently seeks out those that are “destined” to die. In this case, I think this film borderlines in the occult. They do show statues/objects presumably evil and somehow connected to death, although never really elaborates on them. Death—or something else—is also giving Alex premonitions or clues regarding the future. Also, one character asks Alex if he is trying to play God by trying to control when he or others die. Although I did find this film cinematically entertaining, I wouldn’t recommend it at all for younger viewers or those who dislike blood and gore. It scores very low in morality and is not in any way at all edifying. My Ratings: [2½/3]
—Frank Caingcoy, age 28
Movie Critics
…quickly turns into yet another lame horror flick where teens are killed one by one.
—ScreenIt!
…Initially eerie “Final Destination” quickly degrades into typical, tiresome teen terror flick.
—Spliced Online
…will no doubt be a hit and inspire the obligatory sequels. Like the original “Scream,” this movie is too good to be the end of the road.
—Roger Ebert
…One scene includes female breast nudity as a teen looks at a pornographic magazine. Objectionable language is frequent with 44 f-words, among others. Vulgar language and gruesome violence earn FINAL DESTINATION a very objectionable rating.
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review