Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Late Review: Final Destination 3

Director: James Wong
Written by Glen Morgan and Wong
New Line Cinema

Wendy Christensen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has just had a vision of everyone's horrible fiery death. This time, it's a roller coaster after part one discussed the issue of getting off a plane due to such visions and the second covered highway safety. Trouble is, even though these people are miraculously saved through one person's hysterics, Death still wants their heads, and the worst actually awaits the survivors.

This has been the kick of the series, that the survivors actually endure, one-by-one, the most horrifying deaths imaginable, in the order they were supposed to die originally. It sort of opens that discussion as to whether you should have just died in the first place. But one thing I've never been able to get about these movies is why any one person is being given these visions. Is it Death giving the visions, so he can have some imaginative fun? Or is it that in these cases, he just so happens to pick a group of people and one of them is psychic? Yeah, it's overthinking it, because really it's just a filmmaker's trick. But those thoughts always linger.

In this one, after the roller coaster vision, this film's protagonist Wendy is able to save a gaggle of unlikeable teenagers--two overtanned hoochies, an asshole pervert, an asshole football player, a pretentious goth guy and his pretentious goth girlfriend, and her best friend's boyfriend Kevin (Ryan Merriman), who Jim Bouton would refer to as a "beaver shooter." Her boyfriend and her best friend end up staying on the ride and dying. Kevin has looked into it, and tells Wendy that 6 years ago (in Final Destination, he's really saying) a group of kids avoided a plane crash but then all mysteriously died. After some grieving, Wendy starts looking at pictures that she took the night of the disaster and starts noticing some freaky things about them. They seem to be clues as to how the survivors are going to die.

This is where I thought the movie was at its most ridiculous and contrived, even though it's still, in a way, a fun movie to watch. The pictures, taken at completely random moments in time, capture clues to a future death that these people weren't even supposed to be alive to experience anyway. And if she takes pictures two or three minutes later of the same people, the clues wouldn't be there. Once again, filmmaker's trick. A hook. Something the audience can become actively involved in...kind of. Really, it's the series of innocuous occurrences that build into some sort of superdeath which becomes the movie's calling card--it's the reason why people will come out of this saying they really liked it. Those deaths, over-the-top gruesome, are practically funny.

It's one of those movies you've basically just got to shrug and get over it, enjoy it for whatever the filmmakers want it to be, and it is exactly what they want it to be. You can't fault that, but you can fault the logic.


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