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Final Destination 3 Review

By Shawn McKenzie 02/10/2006

What is it about our love for gory effects that keeps us coming back for more?  I don’t know…but as long as we keep having movies like Final Destination 3, the fun will keep coming.

The seniors from McKinley High in McKinley, Pennsylvania, are celebrating Senior Night at a local amusement park.  Wendy Christensen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who’s there with her best friend Carrie Dryer (Gina Holden), is there to take pictures for the school yearbook.  They have brought along their boyfriends to the park…Wendy’s boyfriend Jason Robert Wise (Jesse Moss) and Carrie’s boyfriend Kevin Fischer (Ryan Merriman.)  Wendy is having a good time at first, but as she is taking pictures, she gets an uneasy feeling.  The students all want to ride the Devil’s Flight, a menacing rollercoaster with a scary entrance vocal by “The Devil” (Tony Todd, who played the mortician in the first two FD movies), who entices them to go on the ride.  Wendy is uneasy about the ride, and she refuses to sit in the front with Jason.  She ends up in the back with Kevin, and the ride commences.  Soon, the hydraulics give out, the wheels fall off, the harnesses come loose, and everybody on the rollercoaster dies.  Wendy wakes up from this disturbing vision and realizes that she has just foreseen her and her classmates’ fates on the rollercoaster.  The coaster is divided into two cars that are connected.  Jason and Carrie are sitting in the front of the first car, but all of the other classmates (or at least the main characters who become victims later in the movie) are sitting in the second car.  Wendy freaks out and demands that the rollercoaster attendant (Harris Allan) let her off the coaster.  When Kevin gets in a scuffle with jock Lewis Romero (Texas Battle), they are escorted out of the ride.  She watches in horror as her vision comes true, killing Jason and Carrie (she tries to stop the train, but security prevented it.)  After that horrible night, Wendy just wants to graduate and get on with her life.  Kevin feels obligated though to take care of her, since he had promised that to Jason before that night.  He had looked up on the Internet a story about a boy who had a vision on the plane crash of Flight 180 six years ago where he made his class leave the plane.  Unfortunately, those survivors ended up being killed one-by-one in the order they should have originally died.  He also brings up another story he found from three years ago about a woman who stopped traffic when she had a vision of a terrible multi-car accident on a highway.  The same thing happened to those survivors.  Kevin is afraid that the same thing might happen with the survivors of the coaster.  She doesn’t believe him at first…but then she takes a closer look at the photos that she took that night.  Since Jason and Carrie were in the front, they were killed first, and the people in the second car all died in a certain order in her vision, with Kevin and herself being the last to die.  Among those who got off the coaster: Ashley Freund (Chelan Simmons) and Ashlyn Halperin (Crystal Lowe), a couple of bubble-headed valley girls; Frankie Cheeks (Sam Easton), who wanted to videotape the girls with their tops off; Lewis, who challenges Death to take him on; Goth student Ian McKinley (Kris Lemche), who hates that his last name is the same as the school and the town, and his Goth girlfriend Erin Ulmer (Alexz Johnson); Wendy’s younger sister Julie (Amanda Crew), who had crashed the seniors’ outing; and an Asian girl named Perry Malinowski (Maggie Ma), who doesn’t actually get any lines.  When the students are killed in the predicted order, Wendy and Kevin try to warn the others and figure out a way to not become victims of the Grim Reaper themselves.

If you have seen the first two movies, you know by now that you aren’t going to be getting anything new here.  Aside from it being a new location (an amusement park vs. an airplane or a highway), and the new little twist of the clue-giving photos, it’s the same old set-up.  Death is ticked, so he (or she) is determined to re-claim those bodies he intended to claim the first time around.  A simple car accident or a medical emergency won’t do…they have to be killed in the goriest, grossest way possible.  That’s the fun of the movies!  The photo thing makes it almost comical now.  We have to try to figure out in what way the victims will be killed using the clues in the photo.  There is a scene in a gym where two pirate swords are hanging from the wall, and they are similar to a pair of pirate swords in the picture of the intended victim.  They rattle about on the wall, but they don’t do the actual killing.  The audience starts laughing at clues like the swords, because they don’t realize that the swords are just red herrings.  I’m not going to give away the real method of death of this specific victim, but it comes on quick and out of nowhere…making myself and the people around me say things like, “Eww!  Nasty!”  The clues keep the audience on their toes, but since the audience already were on their toes, the clues weren’t really necessary.

James Wong directed and co-wrote (with Glen Morgan) this third chapter in the Final Destination series (they also did the first movie.)  Wong and Morgan collaborated on Jet Li’s 2001 sci-fi flick The One and the 2003 remake of Willard, so they bowed out of being involved with the second movie.  While I liked Final Destination 3, I didn’t like it as much as FD2, which had been directed by stuntman-turned-director David R. Ellis.  Maybe the clue element is what threw me off, because I like not knowing how the victims are going to be killed.  Either way, I hope that they keep making them, and that this movie isn’t the final destination for this franchise.

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