Directed by James Wong, 2006
Every now and then you have to love a franchise. The Final Destination series is certainly no Nightmare on Elm Street, but it is the only original horror franchise since the early ’90s. The first film has already hit the back burner of praise for its generation, but I’d venture to say that it still holds its ground as being one of the more interesting opportunity seekers, studio wise, of the past decade. It came out during a time when horror had become mildly ‘joke-y’ again, but it played everything with a straight face and actually created a tightly wound and original premise with its grand death schemes.
Final Destination 2 isn’t as complete as the original, but it did make a bare naked run through everyone’s expectations and managed to deliver the deathly goods in a very intentional, oddly successful tongue-in-cheek way.
Final Destination 3, on the other hand, is just a failure and should have been re-worked from the ground up the minute the first draft of the script was turned in. It tries to pull off the smiling gore of 2 with the serious poker face of 1 and instead ends up with the most awkward, acne-scared, bad-hair-day picture in the FD family album.
If it wasn’t obvious already, the grand scheme of death here takes place on a roller coaster as the local high school is having their senior class trip. This time around the visionary who foresees the mechanized carnage is Wendy, an always-on-the-verge-of-crying character who is about as interesting as a roll of toilet paper. The crash is caused when one of the passengers – the creepy guy who is said to have graduated 2 years prior, but who looks younger than everyone else – drops a video camera during the ride, which then wraps around the track, causing the eventual derailment.
After watching everyone die, Wendy snaps back into reality, flips her shit and causes the back half of the ride (but only the back half, because the theme park staff here are worse than the Gestapo) is allowed to leave and then, of course, everyone dies. Naturally the time between when they step off and when the ride crashes is about 90 seconds, whereas it took 5 minutes to show just moments before. Oh, and the guy who dropped the camera got off the ride, so the entire reason for the crash was removed from the equation. And yet it all happens just as it was going to, anyway. Unless there is some director’s cut of the movie with a shot of the guy going out of his way to throw his camera onto the tracks in some moronic fit of rage, this is just the first indication that James Wong and Glen Morgan couldn’t be bothered to actually re-read their script.
The gimmick here is that Wendy was taking pictures of everyone before the crash and that each digital image provides clues as to how the person is now going to die. The filmmakers get a hug for trying to do something new, but it doesn’t work here, which simply draws attention back to the fact that mystery as to who is next and how was even more suspenseful in the two films prior.
The deaths, save for the tanning bed sequence and one involving a nail gun, are all grade school retarded. They require a set-up which would make a game of Mouse Trap look boring and the kill shot, so to speak, is a quick CGI blur every time. For a movie that is entirely about death, death sure isn’t given much respect. The practical effects, though very few and very far between, are good, but the digital work is worse than most Saturday night Sci-Fi Channel pictures; which is extra pathetic given this was the biggest budget the 3 films would see thus far.
The characters provide nothing but yawns and constant contradictions of something they said or did earlier in the movie. The actors make their pay grade, but the material their given is whiny on a middle school level that would embarrass most MySpace users.
There is no reason to see Final Destination 3. It has none of the enjoyable qualities of its predecessors and the amount of continuity errors in both plot and character work is just plain laughable.
Not even an E for Effort. No one tried here. This movie was phoned in from day one. James Wong may have created a good franchise, but if this is the last entry, he just killed it.