Final Destination 3

on February 10, 2006 by Tim Cogshell
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There's another clairvoyant teenager in "Final Destination 3," the third installment in the murder-by- death films wherein death skips the serial killers and hit men necessary to do the deed in most movies and takes care of things itself. Of course, as is the case in all of the "FD" movies, knowing that death is coming doesn't do anyone any good -- at least not for long.

When Wendy ("The Ring 2's" Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has her premonition about a rollercoaster accident, she freaks out just enough to keep her friends from taking a sudden ride to their doom. Everyone else is coaster stew. In the original "Final Destination," it was a tautly designed sequence leading up to an elaborate plane crash that opened the film; in the second movie, it was an intricately-timed highway accident that set the tone for the mayhem. The rollercoaster ride isn't as exciting as either of those sequences, mostly because it isn't nearly as measured but also because the characters are less defined. But do not fret; overall, "FD3" is a nastier and more brutal movie by a good measure than the first two "FD" films. This does not make it a better movie, except to the target audience, for whom the central issue is how all the lovely young people are dispatched, rather than if they will die.

Returning filmmakers James Wong (director/writer) and Glen Morgan (writer/producer), both of the "X Files" series, apparently delight in the precision of their contrivances for how death seeks out those for whom the bell has already tolled. But the fact of the matter is death always wins in these movies -- always. Everyone dies, eventually. It's only a matter of which movie they'll die in, and how they'll go. This, frankly, makes it all kind of moot and boring for those of us who need an opportunity for a character to survive in our thrillers. "FD3" is merely a matter of working out the gags that death uses to pick off characters for which we feel nothing until they are all dead. The original film had pathos and humor; this is gratuitous and silly rather than engaging and funny.

Unless you're only interested in the elaborate schemes dreamed up and executed (no pun intended) with Rube Goldberg-like complexity to exterminate the unintended survivors of the ill-fated coaster ride, this is just another teenage kill-fest. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ryan Merriman. Directed by James Wong. Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong. Produced by Glen Morgan, Craig Perry, James Wong and Warren Zide. A New Line release. Horror/ Thriller. Rated R for strong horror violence/gore, language and some nudity. Running time: 115 min

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