Why I Had to Stay Up Half the Night Watching 'The Final Destination' in 3-D

by Ramin Setoodeh

The Final Destination: 3D comes out today, and isn't it funny—the studio forgot to put the No. 4 in the movie's title. They also forgot to screen the movie early for the critics. Is it good? Is it great? Is it going to win the Oscar? (You know, there are 10 nominees this year.) I went to the very first screening at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, to answer all those questions and more. Here's what happened:

11:59 p.m.: I arrive at the theater, and look at the crowds! Of six people. And there is a woman who looks like Scarlett Johansson handing out 3-D glasses. Except she won't give me a pair, because I accidentally bought tickets to the non-3-D version of Final Destination 4 (OK, I'm just going to call it by its proper name). Then she makes me stand in a long line—of three people—to exchange my ticket.

12:02 a.m.: $16.50 to see a movie!? This must be a masterpiece.

12:03 a.m.: Theater employee Scarlett gives me my glasses, and I ask her if she at least got to see the movie early. No. But she's going to see it after her shift. "I'll sit right next to you," she lies.

12:07 a.m.: Four flights of stairs, and we're here in time for the trailer of 9, the Tim Burton movie. Watching non-3-D movie trailers with 3-D glasses on is like giving a blind man a box of Crayolas.

12:14 a.m.: OK, a 3-D trailer. From the director of The Polar Express! Is that a selling point? Snow is falling and Jim Carrey is flying and I feel motion sickness like the time I rode the Star Wars ride at Disneyland.

12:18 a.m.:
Finally, Final Destination. Did anybody see Final Destination 2 or 3? Can I get the Cliffs Notes?

12:19 a.m.: Race cars! Like in Cars. Except they're in 3-D. So it's like a videogame. Except everybody looks animated. Is this a cartoon? No. False alarm. A real woman/babe/girl person opens with the line "Tell me again why we chose to watch this"—she means the race cars!—"over the movie." Another girl: "Here comes Nick with our soda!" Nick arrives with the sodas.

12:20 a.m.: Nick kisses girl No. 2. All the actors say their lines so slowly and with so little emotion, it's like they took acting lessons from Paris Hilton. Here's a sampling of the dialogue:

"What did I miss?"
"Can you see, ma'am?"
"I thought chivalry was dead."
"That's not true, I have my cowboy right here."
"Put these in."
"Mom, not tampons."
"I can't see now."
"Sir, I need you to move your foot. Thank you."
12:23 a.m.: Oil drips. Screws come unloose. A bench cracks. The wind carries a flier with dead faces on it. A T-shirt says "Life is a bitch and then you die." A race car catches on fire. OMG, everybody is dying. Running. Screaming. Dying. A flame swallows two people. An engine decaptitates another girl. A man has a plank rammed through his—I can't read my notes, let's just say head. Explosions. Death. Everybody is dead. Dead. Dead. Dying. Dead. Dead. More dead. Things fall from the sky. A pole kills a guy.


Nobody is dead. This was all Nick's imagination. "Nick, is something wrong?" asks Nick's girlfriend. (I've never seen any of these actors before, and I will never see them again. It's late, so don't make me go to IMDB, OK?)

12:28 a.m.: "We're all going to die," Nick tells the stadium of people that are about to die. Fight! People leave. People stay. Nick and his posse survive. People fight. How did Nick know about the explosion? A tire lands in the parking lot and decapitates a girl, and blood splatters all over us in 3-D, and the audience hoots, the audience cheers, the audience loves death. End scene.

12:32 a.m.: Brown-haired girl: "Nick, was it like a dream? Why are we still alive?" Red-haired girl: "I think we should go to the memorial." Brown-hair: "I can't. I can't." P.S.: Red-hair is also Nick's gf.

12:34 a.m.: There's a vigil and stuff.

12:40 a.m.: "Hey, Lori, turn on Channel 10 right now. Remember the redneck from the racetrack? He's dead!" Then Nick has a flashback and it's like on Lost, except we're more lost, and he's upset, and he says, "Remember that dream I had last night? I don't think it was a dream. It was a vision.It was like I saw clues to how he was going to die. Nothing makes any sense." Especially this movie.

12:48 a.m.: Best dialogue so far: "We stayed up all night Googling premonitions."

12:51 a.m.: Oh! It gets better! Nick: "I think we can stop it." Girlfriend' "How!?" Nick: "We got to go the racetrack."

12:52 a.m.: They go to the racetrack.

12:54 a.m.: Nick: "Maybe if we stop the mechanic from dying we can break the chain and we'll all be safe."

12:57 a.m.: They don't save the mechanic. A fire extinguisher thingy flies in the air and hits the mechanic, and his body is diced on a fence like sausage and we all go ewwwwww.

12:58 a.m.: Sex scene. 3-D does not improve onscreen nudity. It actually just makes everything blurry.  

1:03 a.m.: There is a car-wash accident that I actually like, so I won't spoil the surprise, except to say it's almost as good as when Kate and Leo were trapped on the Titanic and he was handcuffed to a pole and she had to find the key.

1:08 a.m.: Some dude, Nick's best friend (sorry, did I forget to introduce him!? He's like Paul Walker, but blander) goes swimming but gets stuck at the bottom of the pool and has his intestines sucked into a vacuum. Got it? Good. Now you can forget all about him.

1:09 a.m.: Nick's gf: "I don't want anything to happen to you. If we're together, it makes it easier for death to take us." Nick: "We're in this together!"

1:13 a.m.:
OK, these crazy kids now think they've cheated death, so they're toasting to life! With champagne! And planning a trip to "Paris, beaches, lots of beaches" where they'll hang out with Bette Midler or something. But first, Nick's gf wants to go see a movie.

1:23 a.m.: An ambulance runs someone over. Nick realizes they didn't cheat death and he has to save gf and gf's bff who are both at the movies. Which is like, omg, so totally unsafe. Especially if they went to see Final Destination 4—they might die of boredom.

1:25 a.m.: This is the second movie in two weeks where a theater catches on fire and everybody dies. The other one was directed by Tarantino. Can he sue?

1:26 a.m.: The theater explodes and everybody dies.

1:28 a.m.: No. They aren't dead. Nick was just imagining their deaths. And now I'm going to stop. Stop. Stop. The Madness. Because the theater catches on fire for real and Nick has to warn everybody even though a staple gun has stapled his arm to a wooden plank (ouch) and he still succeeds and everybody escapes, and happy happy joy joy. The end.

1:32 a.m.: Two weeks later. The three close friends are giggling and having coffee together, and who cares if everybody else died, they're still OK. Until one of them says, "What if we didn't change anything? What if us being here right now was the plan from the beginning?" Then a car crashes through the coffee-shop window and they all die.

The end.

Oscar-worthy? I can't decide. A few people clapped. Let's ask these good people in the audience. They paid $16.50 for a 70-minute videogame where they couldn't pick up any of the controllers. What do you guys think!?!?!

"It was OK."
"A bunch of people died."
"Aw, man."
"I thought it was a piece of s--t."
"It was bad."
"It was lame."
"The best part of the movie was the end."
"Part 2 was the best."
"There's no point."

Then I see Scarlett the movie-theater employee, who actually came to see the movie after her shift ended. What did she think? "They totally ran out of ideas with this one," she said. "They half-assed it."

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