All Final Destination Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best

Off late, I noticed an eerily similar trend among various film franchises. I’m not talking about comic cinematic universes and few obvious exceptions. And also, in no way am I generalizing stuff. There’s always the first breakthrough film. This film opens up a market for a sequel, which just comes and goes without causing much of an impact on the positive side of things. If anything, the movie will be viciously trashed by a group of viewers for ruining the prequel. The third one is sometimes in 3D, just to get a good kick out of naming the third part “Franchise Name 3D”. Most times, they crash so hard, like the vehicles in that spectacular accident scene from the second movie of ‘Final Destination’ franchise, that it puts an end to the saga.

But sometimes, the third film works, which gives the makers a free pass to roll with the punches for a few more years. Fortunately, after releasing a reasonable amount of Tagalogs, the audience throw the towel and/or the makers hang the boots. But Unfortunately, some just refuse to slow down. ‘Final Destination’ though knew when to pull the plug. And to give credit where due, these movies have a unique brand of their own. Throughout the ‘Final Destination’ franchise, James Wong and David R. Ellis appear to have done a back-and-forth rotation with directing the series, with James Wong taking the director’s chair for the first and the third while David R. Ellis takes over for the second and the last.

The franchise seems to stay right on track with James Wong working behind the camera but not much so with David R. Ellis directing. Along with these major spikes on the graph, this franchise, due to the inconsistency and the predictability, has hindered itself and lost its track over the course of time. But like an umpteen number of franchises, despite being begged by the critics to call it a day, these films continued to cater to a set of loyal fans. As long there are people who actually like to grab a popcorn and enjoy these movies, who am I to judge? And to be less critical, even those extremely low rated ‘Final Fantasy’ movies are not as bad as they seem.

These films follow a formula, a formula that is as simple as a sixth-grade math formula. If you’re a fan of the ‘Final Destination’ franchise, you’d know the drill by now, and can probably mentally run through all the moments you’ll be expected to see being played out on screen once again. Start with a spectacular death-defying escape from certain demise, and because Death cannot accept those who cheated on him, hence begins that hunter-prey game where the Death’s invisible hand starts to design some elaborate life-ending sequence for its victims, sometimes with some wickedly black humor thrown in. As routine as it seems though like I said before, there is a fan base that like likes these movies, and as long as there are franchises to write about and movies to analyze, we continue to do so. Here is the list of all Final Destination movies ranked from worst to best.

5. The Final Destination (2009)

‘The Final Destination’ left me just one simple taught, what a shame that it’s come down to this, what started out so well has now officially run out of steam and ideas. The plot same as always only this time it’s at a Grand Prix race track, where surprise surprise, there’s a big accident several people die and there’s one character that sees it before it happens and he and a few others get away, only for the grim reaper to come and kill them all of one by one. At this point, everyone knows what to expect, gruesome and sudden deaths and long drawn out cat and mouse sequences by the main character and of course tons of blood, the only slight difference this time that’s 3D.

Of course, there is nothing in this entry that we haven’t seen before, only this time the 3D effects, which don’t stand out. CGI is overly used and the deaths look too cartoonish and over the top. The third part has its flaws and this one could have improved on that, but instead, they decided to get a cast that is purely there for their looks. The characters have no personality whatsoever and even more wafer thin than ever. They might as well casted crash test dummies, for all the use they were.

The only redeeming quality is the race car accident which isn’t that bad. This is the only time in this movie the 3D aspect works. But apart from that everything else in this movie is just weak. It just makes you wonder, when did this franchise become so lazy? The dialogues are, to sugarcoat,  on the level of a street play. The characters are plain and bland, it just seems that there is no effort put into this whatsoever and shows that this franchise is on its last legs.

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4. Final Destination 2 (2003)

This one we have about the same story with the first one but in this the main character is A.J. Cook who plays as Kimberly Corman, a girl who had a bad vision in a highway and she blocks the freeway and saves a few others who were meant to die. And the story continues with all the survivors dying one by one and Kimberly Corman tries to stop it before it was too late and her turn comes. Besides the obvious lack of originality or even the slightest attempt to offer something new plot and story-wise, ‘Final Destination 2’ suffers from two obvious shortcomings.

Firstly, any attempt to compensate for a lacking story with over-intensified gore scenes amateurish. Secondly, the deaths seem too supernatural, much more than in the first film. Where in the first film some water leak, causing the victim to slip. This time the amount of “coincidences” leading to each “freak accident” feel too much like a divine or unholy intervention, too deliberate and too far-fetched. Not as convincing, not as reasonable, not as good. The small attempt at a plot twist towards the ending isn’t successful, and the ending itself is far too comical, not unlike the first film. As a standalone film, the film is average at best, and as a sequel, not more than good.

It’s still a lot of fun to watch after the first, and it definitely isn’t a bad film or a reason to quit on the anthology. It just very obviously could have been better. David R. Ellis directs this movie, and with the over-the-top action in this movie, it’s easy to see this is the guy who made ‘Snakes On A Plane’. He’s clearly having fun, but also seems to know where the limit goes here. Sure the action is crazy, but it’s funny-crazy. The humor is even darker than the first movie, and I was laughing hard so many times I lost count. That’s not a negative thing, however, this movie knew what it was doing and so managed to highly entertain me. And there is still great tension, as it often is unpredictable where the movie will go.

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3. Final Destination 5 (2011)

Every single entry to this franchise, even the shoddy fourth entry, feature wonderfully gory death scenes that crank the inventiveness level up each time. Number five boasts the most suspenseful deaths, Director Steven Quale literally keeps you affixed to the screen gritting your teeth as he builds up to the terror before the death. The first death is gloriously gory and painful to watch, as Ellen Wroe’s Candice dies after a horrific gymnast accident where her whole body snaps, but it’s the consistent shots of that damned sharp screw in view that will keep you on edge.

P.J Byrne’s Oscar gets what he deserves after thieving a dead co-workers massage therapy appointment, involving acupuncture needles and a bloody big Buddha statue. Best of though is Jacqueline MacInnes’ Wood’s character, Olivia, who undergoes laser eye surgery. It’s visceral, no holds barred and unbearable, feeling sick is how I would describe this fine horror moment. All this is absolutely glorious and proper 3D only adds to the twisted nature, those acupuncture needles poke out the screen, the laser eye breaches the barriers of the TV screen plus many loose objects pop out at you.

Although the highlight is the frightening bridge collapse, it is undoubtedly one of the finest visual set pieces ever and the best premonition in the Final Destination series. Sam foresees the collapse, each of the key characters is either sliced up, flattened beneath falling debris or splattered, and the depth affects sprawl into the screen spectacularly, I was in awe at the whole sequence, 3D has never felt more alive or far away. Blood splatters onto your glasses, and even simple shots of the characters talking you can tell how convincing the depth is.

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2. Final Destination 3 (2006)

If you liked the first two, you’ll like this one, since it’s pretty much the same movie again. You probably know the drill by now: people are about to die, someone has a vision and saves them all, then they start dying anyway. The makers know their formula is losing a bit of steam, but they compensate that by making the death scenes as outrageous as possible. Death isn’t just satisfied with killing people, he wants them all pulped and shredded. You could fit some of these victims in an envelope. Can’t really blame him though, because this bunch is pretty unlikable, which is the only difference from the earlier movies.

I don’t watch horror for the intensive character studies, but these stereotypes are really pushing it. Especially the implausibly dumb cheerleader types really bring the atmosphere down. I know they’re played for laughs but this series should only be watched for unintentional laughs. When the makers make it so clear that they’re in on the joke, it’s annoying. But hey, it doesn’t matter that much, this movie is still very amusing. This movie just mails it in, but when your mail carrier is the ‘Final Destination’ franchise, you can get away with it.

Perhaps the most creative horror franchise of modern times returns for a third installment, a virtual carbon-copy of the original and second films. The plot is well known by now, as “death” stalks a group of kids who were spared a premature demise due to a premonition by one of the said kids that disrupts “death’s design.” “Death” then spends the rest of the filmmaking things right, at least right from its point of view. The casting in this film is weaker than the first two. Without A.J. Cook and Ali Larter to carry this film, we’re stuck with garden-variety teen hotties who more than exceed the eye-candy quotient. We get stereotypical teens behaving stereotypically until they come of age in a matter of hours thanks to the grim reaper.

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1. Final Destination (2000)

Given the self-aware nature slasher movies took in the late 90s following ‘Scream’, it was a logical progression for a movie to come along where Death itself is the slasher. The film is well made and well acted. It made an entry to the slasher genre that was a big hit in 2000 and spawned a successful franchise. The once-promising Devon Sawa stars as Alex Browning, a high school student who is about to fly to France on a school excursion but has a premonition in which he sees the plane explode, killing everyone on board. Once on the plane, incidents from the vision start to occur. Alex panics, resulting in him, some classmates and a teacher getting thrown off the plane. The plane ends up exploding just as Alex saw in his vision.

The film contains a big variety of kills, from elaborately set up accidents to sudden decapitations. One of the more enjoyable things in this movie is working out exactly how the various scenarios are going to converge to achieve death’s design. Death is one driven and creative entity. Devon Sawa is great in this film, gradually going further and further off the deep end as he tries to stay a step ahead of death. His performance and the ability of Director James Wong to draw the most out of the premise are the main strengths of the film, while Kerr Smith, Ali Larter and Sean William Scott all do exactly what is asked of them as death’s other targets.

The idea of Death stalking a group of people who have cheated him of his wages is an interesting one and this film doesn’t waste its promise. It’s better to watch this on its own, and not think about later sequels. ‘Final Destination’ is a good idea that is executed well. If you like horror movies for the creativity of death scenes used, then ‘Final Destination’ is surely your thing. Everybody almost loved the first one and criticized the rest but I have to disagree. The first one has presented the basis for the idea but the rest worked on the originality of deaths methods and here I have to say that I reasonably like them all but the best one for me is the first.

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