Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Final Destination 3 Review

With each new outing, the Final Destination (an oxymoron if there ever was one) movies are technically getting better and more creative. Though strangely I still rate the first movie the highest - probably because it had a slightly deeper
plotline. Or maybe the films' relentless pursuit of creative mayhem and murder is wearing me down.

Things that make the third installment more easily digested than its predecessors: the best opening sequence of the series, actors (a very unknowed lot) whom acting school is not uniformly recommended, dialogue that is sometimes not laughable, and an ending that (finally) doesn't cheat. The main part of the movie is obviously the deaths - as with the past movies'. The fun with these isn't figuring out who is going to get it (partly because they make it pretty clear who's next), but how they're going to get it. Director James Wong approaches the moment of maximum bloodletting with a macabre sense of humour. Final Destination 3 replaces the unintentional chortles of its predecessors with intentional humour, and that's to its benefit.

Death - the ultimate serial killer - is on another rampage - hell yeah! But the poor guy needs to practice more with his scythe. He's got bad aim, and fails in his bid to kill a bunch of people in a roller coaster ride accident, so now he has to go to the trouble of offing them one-by-one, just like the first two movies - oh such originality. Admittedly, this allows for more variety and creativity, but think of the other dastardly things he could be plotting instead… There are ten unexpected survivors for Death to take down individually. I won't spoil them for you of course, but rest assured that each one of them are awesome and extremely gruesome! Those with weak stomach, beware! You might just be forced to empty your bowels.

There's enough creativity in the manner by which characters are dispatched that the movie keeps the viewer's interest until late in the proceedings, when the deaths come more quickly, are set up with less elegance, and are less of a spectacle compared to the others - though admittedly the others are truly works of art. I enjoyed the opening 15 minutes, which introduced the characters with economy and generated suspense before and during the doomed roller coaster ride. This is not a movie to see on the day before visiting an amusement park or even a fancy dinner as some scenes are just too obscene and they will haunt you for a few days - at least. The crash sequence is very well executed (emphasis on the last word). As the movie journeys into its plot-intensive phase, it becomes as dumb and improbable as Final Destination and Final Destination 2, but the killings keep coming to the very end.

No one from the other Final Destination movies makes an appearance here, although there are references to the events in the first movie. Death is the only returning 'character'. The plucky Wendy is played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who does as competent a job as one could expect in these dire circumstances. It never hurts to have a good-looking girl get most of the screen time. Seriously, never. Her male cohort is Ryan Merriman, who somehow looks familiar to me, but I can't pin-point exactly why that is. He's a generic good looking young male actor whose talent limits are not tested by what the screenplay requires of him. No one else leaves much of an impression - they're bodies waiting to be bagged, but hey, that's good enough for me.

Final Destination 3 gripped me probably more than the earlier films. It is put together with a modicum of skill. More of an attempt is made at character development and identification. The dialogue doesn't read like a compilation of clichés and howlers. And there's legitimate tension during some of the pre-death scenes. Sure, there's a formula associated with how they develop, but the fun lies in deciphering the way in which the specifics play out. In addition, there's a minimal reliance on "Boo!" (cheap scare) moments.

The recommendation for this film is as easy as they come. If you're a Final Destination fan, it's unlikely that #3 will disappoint. If you like horror/thrillers with plenty of cartoonish blood and gore, this will hit the spot, no doubts. Okay now, what are you waiting for? Go watch the movie!

My verdict - 8.5 out of 10


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