Final Destination 3

| February 16, 2006

As manager Grady Little learned with the 2003 Red Sox, sometimes you go back to the well one too many times. And the results are not what you hoped for. Instead of knocking one out of the park, writer / director James Wong went to his Final Destination series and learned that Third Time is NOT ALWAYS a charm. And you can go to the well one too many times. And sometimes more is not better. And what is it about spilt milk that you are not supposed to cry over?
For those not familiar with the Final Destination series, the main theme is that Death can not be cheated. When it’s your time, it’s your time. In each of the FD movies several people avoid getting killed in one large, horrific event because one person’s premonitions saves them. So Death has to work overtime to come back to pick up the pieces. And does it with a sense of humor. In Final Destination 1, writer Wong had Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) see a jet blowing up and he and several others get off, only to see it explode on take off. In FD2, Kimberly Corman (A.J. Cook) avoids a hundred car pile up and enlists FD1 star Ali Larter to help her and her friends survive. Now we come to FD3. This time, it is Wendy Christenson (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who sees a roller coaster fall apart, killing her and a dozen of her friends. Luckily, her hysterical screaming causes her and several others to escape before the ill-fated trip.
But now Death is gonna come after her and the other survivors. Luckily, Kevin Fischer, her dead friend’s boyfriend, had the idea to look up death on the Internet and found out that 6 years ago, something like this happened before. I guess if Wong had had anything to do with FD2, there would have been even more evidence to scare them. I have said this before, and in FD3 it is very important: When you have scary movies where people are trying to avoid being killed, the audience has to care about the characters or they won’t care how sick and twisted you make the “Offings.” In FD1, we instantly cared about Sawa and Larter. In FD2, Cook and Larter were fantastic. In FD3, we get Winstead and Fischer and although the two actors have over 40 movie and TV credits between them, they can’t act their way out of a paper bag and there is nothing that sucks us into caring about if they will or will not get Offed. And in the first two editions, the other people they were attempting to save were far more likable and interesting. We cared. In FD3, we are given nothing to hope for because other than Fishcer and Winstead, the others really don’t believe their story that Death is a comin’ for them.
And while I am talking about the offings…Unlike the first two, where the Offings are very graphic, some of these killings are just quick cuts and if you want to (or CARE enough to) see the method of death, you will have to put your DVD on slow. Except for the deaths of Ian McKinley (Kris Lemche) and his girlfriend Erin (Alexz Johnson). They are classically good FD deaths. Even the little bit of nudity you get is spoiled by the roasting of flesh two topless girls on tanning beds– yea, you saw it coming waaaay too early. But there was one VERY funny joke that goes along with this scene and if the producers had to pay for the music they used, it was worth every penny for the laugh I got in the first three notes of the song.
There are lots of stupid little things that make this film not as good as the first two films. The most prominent is the blatant rip off if the classic “Offing” movie, The Omen. In that film, we saw the method of death promoted in photos of the about to be offed. In FD3, it’s digital images that give us the clues.
I was very excited to see Final Destination 3. I am a huge fan of the first two installments. But even the ending of FD3 was not exciting at all. It was a typical “We need to wrap this thing up in a hurry” kind of thing. No good last joke. No creative upbeat offing to make you leave the theater with a “That was SICK” smile on your face. I was let down by Death. And when it comes to the Final Destination series, clearly Death needs to take a Holiday. And to get one more cliché into this review to go along with a clear paint by numbers, cliché horror flick: Wong needed a closer (lets go back to the baseball metaphor well one more time) and all he got was bases loaded walk to lose the game.

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