Sunday, 20 September 2009

The Final Destination 3D

On Wednesday I saw the fourth film in the dramatised safety manual franchise "The Final Destination" - and because the option was there I saw it in 3D. I've got to say, it was much better than I expected.

Let me first of all say that there was a trailer for James Cameron's "Avatar" before the film, showing off what can be done using this new(ish) fangled 3D technology. The trailer was very impressive. However, it made the flaws with how the technology is implemented in the feature more apparent. In the trailer, you could look at the objects in the foreground comfortably, but in the Final Destination focusing on the foreground objects made me feel queasy, so instead I had to focus on the middle-ground at most. The effect was, however, impressive overall.

Now, on to the film itself. It follows the same plot as the other three films, where a young person has a vision of a disaster about to occur in which they and many others die. They save some people, but then those people die in the order in which they would have died according to the vision.

In the first film the disaster was a plane exploding in mid-air, and the deaths that followed were entertaining. Some were quite funny, and some were incredibly surprising. For the most part the deaths were caused by human stupidity, setting off a reasonably convincing Rube-Goldberg device resulting in the character's death. Occasionally there would be some sort of black haze just before events would occur, which I interpreted as some sort of physical manifestation of death watching the characters.

The second film was some sort of accident on a motorway, but I can't remember enough of the rest of the film to discuss it.

The third film was a disaster at a theme park, and the film itself was a disaster. The deaths were hilarious purely because they were not convincing in the least - one major flaw was that the writers seemed to do away with the concept of the deaths being matters of human error or stupidity, instead making death an invisible force that, for example, pushes things over to make a forklift truck drift forward. As a hyperbole example, it was as if death would resort to making a gust of wind appear in an airtight box. What ever happened to death being patient?
That and saving the people at the beginning of the film would have averted the disaster altogether anyway...

This film involved a disaster at the racetrack as the start of events. It seemed that it took some of the criticism that was levelled at the third film, and took it under consideration. There were some stupid deaths akin to what occurred in the third film, but many of them seemed to be close to the standard of the first film - one of the most hilarious moments was when a death from the first film was repeated while one of the characters was talking about deja vu. As such the film came off as incredibly tongue in cheek and self-aware, and I believe it was all the better for it.
There is one gripe I have with it, though - after going through the events, averting one of the final deaths, getting to the end of the list, another disaster occurred (with another accompanying vision) - until it became a vision it seemed like death had just gone "You know what? I'm sick of these kids defying their fate. Screw subtlety, I'm just gonna blow stuff up!"
Once it was revealed to be a vision, it left a lingering plot-hole: If I recall correctly, the ending of the first film made it seem that when they get to the end of the list, it just goes back to the beginning, so the characters would have to be on the look out forever. Yet here it seemed that by getting to the end of the list they did avoid their fate forever, so death created a new disaster.
The ending then became even more confusing, when death just skipped all of the people they saved to kill them first in the "shocking" ending. What ever happened to consistent writing?

Overall, though, I found it entertaining - a worthy addition to the franchise inheriting some bad traits, but many of the very good traits.

There are only two points left that I want to discuss:
1) Why do these people get these visions? This is something that is never explained, and I want an explanation dagnabbit. When the third film was going to be released, I remember it being hyped as the end to the series, the film that would explain everything. Instead it explained nothing, and was just plain terrible.
2) The name. Why not Final Destination 4? It obviously took place after the other 3 - they have print-outs from teh internet and everything! Maybe they wanted to give it an ambiguous name in case they wanted to set a film between 3 & 4, but what would the point be? It's not like the films link together in some coherent large-scale story. At most it's thematic links and fan-service references.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Alternate endings

Here's a quick one:

"Alternate Endings" are really annoying. Sure some can be good (look at the deleted ending to Terminator) and some can be bad, but that's not what annoys me. What annoys me is the use of the word "alternate"

You see, I just started playing Braid, and I know about the secret stars. When all of these stars are collected, an "alternate ending" is revealed, apparently. But is it really, truly alternate? Sure, it will be different from the normal ending, but is it completely instead of or is it as well as?
Does it replace the normal ending, or is it an epilogue of sorts?

Why do I want to know this? Well, if it is instead of, then I will need to play the game twice. If it is as well as, I should play the game once, ensuring I collect everything (which, considering where I am, I would need to actually restart the game - should I keep going, or should I start again?)

Sure the game might be good, I'm not as far through it as others, but I fear it may suffer from being over-hyped, and I may not want to play through it again (at least not for a while.)