February 11, 2006

Movie Review: Final Destination 3

Final Destination 3 just may be the final nail in the coffin. Quite frankly, it is just not a good movie. I had some hopes for this latest entry, but they were pretty much dashed during the opening sequence.

When the first Final Destination movie came out back in 2000, it was a fun horror/thriller. It was a creative blend of plotting and surprise killings. The sequel, in 2003, offered up more of the same. Fortunately, it offered up that sameness in a surprisingly good way, especially in connecting it to the first film, and being deceptively clever. This third volume dials away all that made the first 2 so much fun.

This story revolves around 9 people that get off a roller coaster that has a tragic mishap. Quickly, they reference the first film, and Death is off to the races. The formula has overtaken the concept, if you have seen the first 2, or even just one of them, you know what to expect. The heroine realizes the problem and sets off the chain of death and destruction. The next victim is figured out and she sets out to attempt to avert the inevitable.

There is just something about this movie, it just failed to click. Sure, there were a few interesting kills, but none of them were nearly as shocking as in prior entries. The blood seemed to have been toned down, presumably for an unrated DVD release. I didn't care about any of the characters, usually I was just waiting for them to die. There were also a number of scenes that just went on so long and dragged the film out, and for a film barely reaching 90 minutes, not a good sign.

Something that stood out during the whole opening roller coaster sequence has to do with a rumor I had heard when this was still in production. I had heard that this was initially conceived as a 3-D movie, a choice that was thankfully abandoned. While watching, it looked as it they had started to shoot this way, a bunch of the scenes have stuff popping out towards the screen, it reminded me of watching Friday the 13th Part 3 flat.

I really wanted to like this. I like films that string together cleverly staged scenes of death dealing. I guess, in my constant film going lifestyle, I have decided that I need something to hang that blood on. This is formula with no story, a formula for formula's sake. The first sequel may have followed the formula, but the plot was clever, linking it to the first film and deviously setting up the kills. Now, it is rather ho-hum.

The whole roller coaster sequence could have been brilliant, as it stands it reinforced my dislike for the attraction. The scene is pieced to together in such a way that it is hard to keep track of the action, and I quickly started to wish it would end. It has none of the choreographed mayhem that was the fantastic highway wreck that started Final Destination 2. The tips are rather obvious and heavy handed, each step is heavily broadcast that each death becomes more an exercise in design rather than a thrilling shock.

The film was directed by James Wong, his first film since 2001's The One, who was also behind the original film. It seems the years between films has dulled his style. While it has a slick look, it is pieced together in a straightforward manner that reduces the tension to nil. Wong co-wrote the script with Glen Morgan. It probably should have gone through a few more rewrites.

On the acting front, there is nothing to really complain about. The performances are about what you would expect, perhaps a bit better, but nothing that really stands out as being terribly memorable. Mary Elizabeth Winstead does what she can as our lead, Wendy, but there isn't much to work with.

Some questions came up during the movie. Where were all the parents? There did not appear to be any adults in the movie. Where was Death? There was no palpable feeling of its presence as in the prior films. I could keep picking this apart, but to what end? They know the audience and did the bare minimum required to reach them.

There are a few in-jokes throughout. Most notably in a couple of character names. One name is Lewis Romero (an homage to Herschel Gordon Lewis and George Romero), another is Jason Robert Wise (recently deceased director Robert Wise). Did you pick up on anything?

Bottomline. Hopefully this will be the end of the line for this series. That is unless someone comes up with a killer concept that injects a healthy dose of originality. This one floats on a slick look and a couple of decent kills. Sadly, there are too many laggy moments and a poorly pieced together story.

Not Recommended. ** / *****


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