Final Destination 3 (2006)
By: Lauren Monaghan on November 28, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Roadshow (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DTS 6.1, English DD 2.0. English (FHI) Subtitles. 89 minutes
The Movie
Director: James Wong
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ryan Merriman, Kris Lemche, Alexz Johnson
Screenplay: Glen Morgan, James Wong
Music: Shirley Walker
Tagline: This ride will be the death of you
Country: USA
Pointless female nudity? Check. Cheesetastic dialogue? Hell yes. The occasional head popping like a grape? You betcha. For a second generation Hollywood sequel, Final Destination 3 does a surprisingly good job offering up the horror essentials of boobs, buffoonery and blood – even if it is just to distract from its less-than-spectacular plot.

If you've seen the first two Final Destination films, you'll know the drill – unsuspecting teenager foresees grisly disaster, takes steps to avoid said nasty end, and saves a few lives in the process. Death gets all "Hey, that's not part of my design!" and sets about offing the survivors in the order they originally should have died in.

This time around, the Reaper comes calling at an amusement park, where a bunch of high schoolers are celebrating graduation. Their death trap of choice: the "Devil's Flight" rollercoaster. Their visionary saviour: yearbook photographer Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Not safe for long, soon after their near slice and dice on the ride the teens start falling victim to bizarre and sometimes uncomfortably graphic "accidents" (broiled cheerleader, anyone?). Death, Master of the Mysterious Breeze and Flickerer of the Light Switches of Doom, has returned.

Unlike its predecessors, Final Destination 3 wastes no time dealing with the intricacies of Death's plan – 25 minutes in and the characters already have their wits about them. Mary's convenient photographs reveal clues as to how each teen will bite it, and the internet sleuthing skills of fellow survivor Kevin (Ryan Merriman) lay out the rules of the game (apparently Final Destination Movies for Dummies can now be found online).

Adding to the fast-paced nature of this installment, Death has apparently developed some kind of attention-deficit disorder, whizzing from dismemberments to decapitations with nary a pause. In part, this is what works well for the movie. The continuous splatter of teenage viscera in new and creative ways is a solid formula for keeping an audience entertained – rather reminiscent of the A Nightmare on Elm Street days, where no one slaughter was ever the same, and guessing how the characters copped it was half the fun.

Unfortunately, the rapid journey of Final Destination 3 means there is precious little time for plot, with the characters pausing just enough to ponder Newton's Third Law of Motion before deciding that, indeed, "death is fucking complicated". But with so many questions raised by all three movies, this attitude is likely to leave many fans bereft. Where do the premonitions come from? What's so special about the people who receive these warnings? Is Death always accompanied by a kitschy theme song? The third instalment stubbornly refuses to expand the mythos of the franchise, instead drowning all such queries in an ooze of relatively bloody, chunky gore (leaving the door open for yet another sequel, no doubt).

Another potential point of annoyance is the film's reliance on CGI. While the digital effects are by no means poor, it's the practical effects that remain the most shocking. In particular look out for one unlucky character getting a makeover a'la Hellraiser's Pinhead; it's these kinds of gags that inevitably leave you yearning for more of the traditional stuff.

And of course there's no getting around the fact that Final Destination 3 is from the bowels of the Hollywood machine – instead of dark and gritty the movie is pretty shiny and slightly bubblegum – but that's not to say there aren't times when the face of more traditional horror rears its head (see above, re: dead cheerleader).
The Region 4 release is presented in widescreen 2.35:1 and is 16:9 enhanced, whereas if you opt for the Region 1 release you can take your pick of either a widescreen or full screen edition. Quality-wise, the Region 4 offering is everything you've come to expect from brand-spanking new Hollywood releases: crisp, clear and oh-so-shiny. The end sequence is a little off, though – a tad too much on the green side, and seemingly less polished than the rest of the film (probably on account of it being filmed months after the rest as a last minute addition, on a super-tight budget).
The movie makes full use of its Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation, with every drizzle of rain and every slice through flesh coming across loud and clear.
Extra Features
Whatever the film's blunders, they're ultimately forgivable when you take a look at the bonus materials. The two-disc Thrill Ride Edition is the first of its kind, featuring the ability to "create your own movie". While it's not as drastic as it sounds, this option is pretty nifty: it involves making decisions at designated points in the film that may end up impacting on the storyline. Though its promise of "completely changing the outcome of the movie" is somewhat unfulfilled, the smaller alternative scenarios on offer are really quite impressive, including variations in death scenes and the ability to access an amusing character video diary. The only trouble is that different decision combinations may very well lead to different outcomes, so you could be there for a while…

There's also a commentary by the creative team, including director James Wong, which is strangely fun to listen to (and does a good job explaining away several plot holes and justifying the film's gratuitous nudity). There's also enough featurette material and additional footage to shake a bloody stump at, with an 88 minute making-of documentary that's excruciatingly detailed, a featurette on Dead Teenager Movies, a cute cartoon about death, a bunch of trailers and an extended scene.
The Verdict
All in all, don't be fooled by Final Destination 3's Tinseltown or sequel status – if you peer beyond all the hype and ham to the gory, reasonably blood-spattered bone, you'll find yourself looking at a rather enjoyable slasher-style flick that, along with its armload of special features, is really one hell of a ride (c'mon, you just knew that pun was coming!).
Movie Score
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