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THE FINAL DESTINATION

Studio: New Line Cinema

Rated: R for strong violent/gruesome accidents, language and a scene of sexuality.

Starring: Shantel VanSanten, Bobby Campo, Haley Webb, Nick Zano and Krista Allen

Directed by: David R. Ellis

What it’s about: Death is back to kick some teenagers in bizarre and creative ways. This time around, a group of kids narrowly avoid dying in a horrible crash at a stock car race. Over the next several days, the survivors are picked off one-by-one in the order they would have died.

What I liked: There are very few things that I really enjoyed with this installment of the Final Destination series… and I have been a fan of the series since the first Final. I will admit that the death scenes are pretty graphic and crazy at times. However, none of them holds a candle to the kills in the third installment of the series. Just a bit more blood and guts.

And, the 3D effects were pretty cool. With the digital 3D technology, the action sequences look excellent, and there are plenty of jump moments. Sure, there’s a gratuitous sex scene thrown in there, but it’s not nearly as nice as the nude chase from My Bloody Valentine 3D.

What I didn’t: Is it weird to say this film doesn’t have the same level of characters and plot as the first three films? I’ll admit those movies were exploitation flicks as well, but there was a uniqueness to the first two, while the third embodied a campy and over-the-top nature. These elements are sorely lacking in The Final Destination.

The characters were vapid – even more than you’d expect from a third sequel. The plot points were taken right from the first film. There was no creativity in the story of people at all. I honestly don’t even remember their names because they were so pointless. I’m not looking for Oscar-caliber character development, but there wasn’t even Oscar-the-Grouch-caliber character development.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who want to see crazy violence in 3D.

Grade: D

TAKING WOODSTOCK

Studio: Focus Features

Rated: R for graphic nudity, some sexual content, drug use and language.

Starring: Demetri Martin, Imelda Staunton, Henry Goodman, Jonathan Groff and Emile Hirsch

Directed by: Ang Lee

What it’s about: As part of the global awareness of Woodstock’s 40th anniversary, Ang Lee is giving us a look at the festival from a different angle. Taking Woodstock tells the story of how Elliot Teichberg (Demetri Martin) managed to bring the high profile music festival to his small town in upstate New York. Rather than showing the bands and the main stage, Lee’s film shows the story behind the music, in which Elliot works political connections to make things happen while coming of age himself.

What I liked: Not being a fan of the whole hippie movement or the history of Woodstock (I was born in 1971, after all), I didn’t get caught up in the hype of the era. Rather, I appreciated the unique perspective that Lee brings to the story. Rather than focusing on all the acts that happened on the stage, he shows how people reacted to the event inside and out. The closest the viewer gets to the bands is several hundred yards away, and that is pretty realistic for the people who attended the festival.

Overall, the acting is pretty good, and Demetri Martin shows he can play a leading role. Eugene Levy is also quite good as the landowner who allowed the festival to take place on his property. But the standout performance comes from Liev Schreiber as Vilma, the Korean War vet who is now the cross-dressing head of security. If only he had a larger role in the film…

Oh, and with all the full frontal nudity going on, I am very pleased we didn’t have to see Dan Fogler’s junk at any point in the film.

What I didn’t: Like I said before, I was too young to enjoy Woodstock or even partake in the hippie era. It all seems so pointless to me, looking back 40 years – basically a time of slackers and pseudo intellectuals. (No offense to any hippies out there.)

While I appreciate the festival’s historic implications, it just seemed like a colossal waste of time on screen. The movie really glorifies the movement and the festival, ignoring the many logistical problems it faced. Call me an old fart, but when the movie was over, I just wanted to take a shower. Where is Eric Cartman when you need him.

Who is gonna like this movie: Damn hippies.

Grade: C

HALLOWEEN II

Studio: The Weinstein Company

Rated: R for strong brutal bloody violence throughout, terror, disturbing graphic images, language, and some crude sexual content and nudity.

Starring: Tyler Mane, Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Scout Taylor-Compton and Sheri Moon Zombie

Directed by: Rob Zombie

What it’s about: Michael Meyers, with and without a mask, killing more people. And Sheri Moon Zombie doing her best Gandalf the White impression.

What I might like: I’m sure the imagery of the film is cool. Say what you want to about Rob Zombie as a director, he tends to give a strong look to his movies (with the exception of House of 1000 Corpses, which looked like a Disney Channel sit com).

And, according to the MPAA description, there should be some crude sexual content and nudity. Expect the same as you got from Zombie’s Halloween remake two years ago.

What I might not: After the Weinstein Company went out of their way to screen Inglourious Basterds to every critic in the country, they swept Halloween II under the rug. Sure, I could have paid to see it at midnight, but I already wasted $13 to see The Final Destination.

Let’s face it, when a movie like this isn’t screened, the studio’s hiding something. If the trailers are any indication, the film is a mess. While there might be some good kills for the gorehounds out there, I imagine the script is all over the place. And what the hell is Sheri Moon Zombie doing in this film? A ghost of Halloween past? Rob Zombie isn’t a good enough director to put his acting vacuum lady friend into his movies and not have them suffer.

Let’s hope this film bombs. I’d hate to see what this guy does with a Season of the Witch remake.

Who is gonna like this movie: Rob Zombie fans… at least the fans of his movies.


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