Final Destination 2, released 3 years after the first, was put into development after the first film was a big hit at the box office, grossing $112 million against a $23 million budget. Jeffery Reddick, creator of the series and co-writer of Final Destination, was not involved in the production, as well as James Wong and Glen Morgan, co-writers and, in Wong’s case, director. New Line Cinema hired David R. Ellis to replace Wong as director, and J. Mackye Gruber and Eric Bress as writers. The box office returns were not as strong as Final Destination, making only $90 million with a $26 million budget. This could be attributed to the negative reaction the original, which is a shame, because in a lot of ways, Final Destination 2 is a big improvement on it’s precursor.
Exactly one year after the events of the first film, Kimberly Corman (A.J. Cook) is driving with her friends on their spring break, when she has a premonition of a pile-up on Route 23 and of her and all her friends dying. She stops 8 people, including a cop called Thomas Burke (Michael Landes), from getting on the highway, and while Burke is questioning her, the pile-up takes place, killing her friends, but saving herself and the 8 people she stopped. However, after the survivors start to die, Kimberly starts to think Death might be after them, and seeks the help of Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), the last survivor of Flight 180 (Alex Browning died in-between movies). Now Kimberly, Burke, Clear, and the rest of the cannon fodder this movie has to offer must attempt to stop Death from killing in his complex and gory fashions. Oh Death, you really have to stop giving these kids premonitions or they’re just going to cheat your plan!
One of my chief complaints of Final Destination was that the over complicated Mouse Trap deaths weren’t actually scary, and it’s really the same here. But, it has a different feel than the first one. The tone is much more comedic this time around. It feels like the filmmakers saw that people enjoyed the kills for being so outlandish and gory, so just turned it up to 11. The gore is much more graphic, but at the same time, much more cartoon-like. One scene involving a pane of glass which I won’t spoil is pretty hilarious, and made me burst out laughing. The one exception is a scene where one of the characters gets killed by a lift, which is portrayed in such a visceral and rather disgusting way that’s extremely jarring and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
The acting is more varied than before, with Ali Larter showing her true colours in this film. With no Sawa to have any chemistry with, she’s left with not much to do, and suffers majorly, giving a flat, uninterested performance that is just boring to watch. On the other hand, A.J. Cook is very good in her role as Kimberly, portraying a strong woman that can hold her own, even if those are her only real characteristics. Tony Todd is back in his role as Mr. Exposition, who had possibly the best scene in the first movie, chewing so much scenery and portraying the part with such gusto and relish that was very fun, but is entirely wasted here. His two minute long scene is basically telling the characters everything the audience figured out half an hour ago.
Final Destination 2 had the advantage of being the sequel to a less than average movie. It may not sound like a good thing, but it means that it will be compared to the first one, most likely in a positive light. The film isa lot better than Final Destination, due to it’s much more comedic and over-the-top tone and more creative deaths. If the series carried on like this, this would have been one of the franchises to look out for, but sadly, it was not meant to be, as Final Destination 3, 4 (oh sorry I mean The), and 5 came around to suck whatever life the series had out of it.