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Final Destination 3 : Thrill Ride Edition (DVD)

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In short, there’s nothing in “Final Destination 3” that hasn’t seen before, and done better, in the previous two films. In fact, with it’s ‘in name only’ connection to the first two films, and no-name cast, it could easily have been produced as a DVD premiere (the sad thing is, it was originally conceived as a 3D film…now that would’ve been a great gimmick!). Third time around is still light fun, but it’s definitely not a charm.


Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ryan Merriman, Kris Lemche, Alexz Johnson, Sam Easton, Jesse Moss, Gina Holden

One you get on, you can’t get off. And though it’s ups and downs, unforseen twists and fast pace are easily endurable; the fact that you’re merely going over already-well-travelled tracks takes most of the enjoyment out of it. When both roller coaster and film go off the rails, you’ll be wishing someone had bothered to oil and grease the carrier before it moved out of the gate too.

The first “Final Destination” (2000) was a treat. The story of a group of teenagers, who survive a plane crash, only to be knocked off one-by-one after it anyway (because you can’t beat death), was well written, imaginative and well juiced with fun. The sequel, though merely a retread of the first (except for a fantastic highway car pile up at the start of the film), was also rather entertaining – if only because we had characters worthy of investing in. This latest sequel, though encompassing splotches of imagination, isn’t nearly as good. “FD3” is all-too over-dramatic – why bother playing the scary music and pulsating boom, when there’s nothing on screen to be scared of yet! – Ridiculously passé, and filled with characters that aren’t only dull, but as daft as plywood (‘Oh, so apparently I’m supposed to die from a firecracker. Well, then, I will just stand around near the firecracker case…waiting…not running for the hills, like a normal person would!). How can you invest in them?! Heck, hand us the nail-gun, I’ll gladly let you off a few rounds in their direction.

As you’ll have guessed from my sycophantic opener, the film’s main set piece is a roller coaster. When Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a premonition that the ride will go off the rails, killing everyone on it (which are all her school friends), she freaks and demands off, before it pulls out of the gate. Conveniently, her friend’s boyfriend (Ryan Merriman), a couple of ditzy valley girls, some rough nuts and other deviates are also forced off the ride.

Keeping up?

Just in case the ‘endless’ references to what happened in the first film don’t tip you off (within ten minutes of the film, our male lead has done a google and discovered the case of the first film, and proceeds to retell it – a couple of times), the film then proceeds to rely on Carbon, with death knocking off each one of the survivors – our two heroes, of course, are supposed to be last on the list – based on where they would’ve been sitting had they been on the doomed coaster.

OK, so young audiences are going to love the ghastly death sequences, which though far from frightening, are as funny as a Tex Avery cartoon. There are some goodies here (the ditzy chicks in a tanning salon, the muscleman in a gym…). Teens might also like the film’s final act, which might just be the most inspired piece of the rather prosaic screenplay. And chances are, they may even find some of the characters interesting – but that’s a long shot.

In short, there’s nothing in “Final Destination 3” that hasn’t seen before, and done better, in the previous two films. In fact, with it’s ‘in name only’ connection to the first two films, and no-name cast, it could easily have been produced as a DVD premiere (the sad thing is, it was originally conceived as a 3D film…now that would’ve been a great gimmick!). Third time around is still light fun, but it’s definitely not a charm.

The DVD, thankfully – as is usually the case with these types of films – is better than the film, in that the extras are more entertaining than the actual film – and significantly more inventive. Yes, there’s the commentary, featurette and deleted scenes but moreso, there’s this awesome new interactive feature called “Choose Their Fate”. This is superb. What it is, is a feature where during several points in the film, the screen turns into a carnival-style sign that gives the viewer an option on how they would like to see the film proceed. You can choose whether characters live or die, choose how they die, or tweak other elements of the movie. It really is, quite novel. Unlike the film itself.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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