You know, I have half a mind to pull out my old review of the original “Final Destination” and post it here instead of bothering to write a review of the mind-numbingly derivative “Final Destination 3” – it’s literally the same exact movie, with interchangeable teen pincushions and a new set of sharp things to plunge into them. Here’s the plot: X is nervous about getting on a X with all of his/her friends, and when the X is about to take off, X has a panic attack and premonition of a terrible accident. X makes a scene and gets thrown off of the X, along with the supportive X, asshole jock X who gets in a fight with X, and random people X, X, and X who get off because they have nothing better to do. X and X start to build a tenuous X as X, X, and X bite it in elaborate but not very clever ways, and realize that they must upset Death’s “plan” in order to survive. X and X seem to evade the curse until the last scene, but Death hasn’t been fooled after all, and ZZZZZZZ…
Wong and Morgan: your diminished returns are ready. Get ‘em while they’re hot.
Merely casting perfectly likeable leads Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Wendy) and Ryan Merriman (Kevin) and herding a bunch of no-name teens into the path of an oncoming steamroller is not enough to overcome sheer laziness in terms of story, character, ANYTHING. I can’t believe I just sat through what could easily be a collection of deleted scenes from the first movie – this is like a 90-minute DVD extra. I won’t bother arguing that these “characters” are merely fleshbags filled with grue just waiting to be splattered across the screen, because there’s no sense arguing the main point of a film, and the real reason most people go to see it. But come on, guys – there’s absolutely nothing to watch here. In the first film, the doomed kids at least have to struggle to figure out what’s happening, and it’s kind of fun in a gore-soaked Scooby-Doo episode kind of way. But here, we know the story already, and Wong and Morgan make absolutely no attempt to engage us in any new way. To add to the inanity, the new batch of victims learn quickly about the bizarre and particular nature of the death curse by – get this – reading about it on the Internet. Sure, some blogger happened to know what order the kids would die in on the doomed airplane and wrote all about it in between posts about her cat. Sure. At least they didn’t insult us by making us “discover” this important bit of information with the characters, but having him spew it out at random is kind of hilarious.
The best part of the film is definitely the roller-coaster sequence (it seems to take up half of the movie, in retrospect), so I’ll give it a moment – there’s some great carnival-themed doom-and-gloom leading up to the big ride (the opening credits sequence is nice and spooky), but the accident itself is actually a big disappointment. Watching the elements that lead up to the accident is fun (an impossible blend of failed hydraulics, dropped cameras, and faulty tracks), but once hell breaks loose people just kind of go flying in every direction and that’s about it.
We’re supposed to feel bad about the accident because Wendy’s boyfriend was stuck on the ride and died along with her best friend (who was basically a bitch anyway), but almost immediately the movie kicks into high wink-wink gear, even going so far as giving most of the deaths their own theme songs (“Rollercoaster of Love”, “Love Train”, blah blah). It’s the kind of lame, easy fratboy humor that I could easily see a first-time filmmaker going for, but come on – can’t you come up with anything more original than that? Even the second film – which is undeniably the meanest and most intense of the 3 – had a certain kind of exquisite cruelty to the reality of these doomed individuals’ situations that wasn’t trivialized by dumb jokes like this (or Kevin’s concern that his death will involve something “up the butt”, which is beyond stupid considering that people all around him are being hacked to pieces and his number is up soon). And I’m not going to waste too much time on the inexcusable offhand reference to the World Trade Center attacks – those were real people, folks – not the one-note walking dartboards that you take such pride in populating your films with. I don’t expect much from splatter filmmakers in terms of good taste (nor would I want to), but it takes a special absence of soul to conjure the recent memory of a tragedy of that magnitude for the sake of comparison to a CGI rollercoaster accident. Come on, guys.
That said, I can’t say the movie is a total waste – there are a few interesting moments and there’s a sort of economy to simply walking idiots down a plank in single file, to pay a very backhanded complement. At least the kills-per-minute ratio is high. Here’s a laundry list of said kills, in the hopes that reading it will dissuade at least a few of you from sitting through this disappointment: tanning bed burnings (which was just done last year in “Urband Legends: Bloody Mary”), weight machine head-crushing, car accident rear-ending with motor-through-the-head, nailgun-shooting, crushing by big… thingy, spear through back, and some assorted CGI subway-accident carnage. Actually, most of the more interesting kill are CGI’d within an inch of their lives, and are pretty yawn-worthy as a result. I think that’s it. There. Now go watch something original, okay?