Final Destination 3 (2006)

Changing one’s mind is an occupational hazard of being a film reviewer. It’s dangerous to re-watch films after reviewing them, in case your opinions alter, or, heaven forfend, you realise you were actually wrong. It’s quite possible for me to change my mind without actually watching the movie again, though (Batman Begins, anyone? Did someone slip me some hallucinogenic drugs for that one? Oh dear.) and shamefully, it seems to have happened in the case of the Final Destination series. Final Destination 3 is still as completely brainless as its predecessors, so maybe it’s just the effect of having watched it on a big screen, but somehow, the inanity of it all doesn’t seem to matter: who cares if there’s nothing between the gory killings when the gory killings are just so darned fun?

As per, Final Destination 3 starts with a spectacular set piece: after the exploding plane of the original and the zillion car pile-up of Final Destination 2, the filmmakers have scaled things back a notch, somehow managing to make a much smaller disaster far, far more exhilarating. The dazzling sequence taps into every fear an amusement park goer might have as a rollercoaster goes dramatically wrong: the hydraulics are on the fritz, the tracks are broken, the restraints come unlocked and people fly out of their seats, and the car gets stuck upside down in the middle of a loop. The movie follows the coaster on its ascent, and with a combination of atmospheric music and cunning camerawork, perfectly evokes the sensation of being aboard a rollercoaster – which is something no-one who’s seen this movie will probably ever want to do, ever again.

The sequence is so breathtaking, in fact, that an entire cinema full of squabbling 15 year olds fell silent for its duration. Once that scene was over, they all started shrieking and giggling again, but for a few minutes, they were captivated – a pretty darned impressive feat for a big silly movie of this kind.

The rest of the movie follows precisely the path laid out by the previous two movies: one teenager has a vision of the impending disaster and manages to save themselves as well as several other randoms. Death, understandably, gets pissed off that they’ve thwarted him (her? It?) and picks off the survivors in increasingly nasty ways, in approximately the order they were originally supposed to die. Somehow, it’s become even simpler and more obvious this time around: probably because the audience already knows the score, so there’s little to no point spending time with the new set of kids finding out what’s going on – they just look it up on the internet. Sorted: let the killing commence. Once the deaths start, they don’t really stop. The clues are far more obvious this time around: Death has, handily, stuck clues into all the pictures taken on the night of the crash. It’s best not to think too hard about this, because – the pictures were taken before the crash, before Wendy had a vision, before she saved anyone, and before Death had to take revenge, so why are there clues there? Yeah, like I said: don’t think about it too much. It doesn’t help that the clues are mostly pretty oblique, too – and actually, now that I come to think about it, I think maybe there aren’t clues there, at all. Everyone gets killed in the course of their everyday life, doing things they do anyway; it’s just kind of a coincidence that there happened to be pictures of them doing similar things. This explanation makes more sense to me than that Wendy could read anything at all into the picture of Ashley and Ashlyn – they’re holding a carnival prize, it’s a bit blurry, and they burn alive on a sunbed. No matter how many times the camera zoomed into this picture, and the sound department made spooky noises, I couldn’t see any clues – so I guess if Death’s stalking you, I’m not a good person to have around.

As is only to be expected, each death is gleefully messy and painful, and events build to a crescendo at a town celebration, before the inevitable let’s-wrap-things-up conclusion. By the standards of the later deaths, the rollercoaster seems remarkably quick and clean –for the most part we don’t see much of any specific deaths – but it works as an introduction, and the rest of the movie keeps the action and the shocks coming thick and fast, so much so that there’s barely time to relax between them. The comedy is mostly physical, because the script is pretty poor, and the characters are pretty non-existent, but: it’s a Final Destination movie, and audience members know what they’re signing up for.

I could nitpick a little more, because there are plenty of plotholes, and I’d also like to contest the casting director’s choices somewhat, but in the end, what matters is the carnage. And I’m pleased to report there’s plenty of it.

IMDB link

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not having seen Final Destination (1 or 2), I am perhaps not in the best position to judge Final Destination 3. On the other hand, I know a stinker when I see one.

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