Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Still the same-ish
When dealing with formulaic horror films that follow the same procedure time and time again, you’re going to be getting more aggravated critics that decide how good or bad the movie will be before they see it. Emphasis on the bad. Does that mean they’re right, though? I wouldn’t say that, I would instead say unfair. They have critic blinders on, meaning, too much of the same hubble-bubble and they’re done. I, on the other hand, look past that. I like to see the repetition, and then challenge myself to dig deeper, find the story, and spot the difference. Now, this could be a good or bad thing, depending on how the story has or has not changed. Final Destination 3 does in fact follow the same structure as its two predecessors, it does, but the story also has a unique quality. Is that enough to save it?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars in this film as Wendy, the girl with the power to experience the future. Our film has the same basic opening, with some catastrophic event that kills several young men and women. This time around, it’s a derailing roller coaster. She cries bloody murder and gets off, her friends, wondering what drugs she is on, get off to comfort her, and are forced off the ride. Off the ride, it does its thing and derails as promised. If you have watched the other films, you know how it goes, the survivors learn that death has a design for them, and is hunting them down, one by one. The difference is now they have a clearer understanding on how they will die, clues to look out for. How, you may ask? Simple, through the use of photographic premonition. Pictures taken on the day the survivors should have died produced clues on how they would die now. Creepy.
Tell you what, the whole clues found in the photograph really interest me. I haven’t seen enough films where this whole idea of a paranormal photograph hasn’t been used in as many films as it should have, but I don’t think it fits Final Destination. I like it, and it was neat once or twice, but these movies thrive off of the idea of the unknown. The…anticipation that has the audience cringing in their seat. Will the character slip on this and cut their head off, will this water reach them and electrocute them? The possibilities were endless. Now, with clues in a photograph, you were left just waiting for it to actually happen. That unknown quality…was lost. I like how they changed it, but…this wasn’t the change they were looking for.
As for the initial roller coaster catastrophe? It had some bad CGI some of the time, but I was still hooked for that portion of the film. From a personal perspective, I can totally understand the fears introduced in that area. Sometimes those safety straps are loose, and you can see those pipes that the coaster rides on shaking, and the rides do shut down several times. There are legitimate things that are terrifying to think about for roller coasters. It’s the small details that required focus to hit a nerve, and they did it. So this is one of the only times you’ll see me disregarding the bad CGI for successfully getting a message across. It was a tad distracting, but this was the only moment in the film that had the ability to scare.
The acting isn’t really all that great. Neither was it for any of the movies thus far, but I can say that I liked the characters a bit better this time around. Yes, better than the first or second movie, which I thought every character (besides Clear) was forgetful. These characters? Well, they aren’t overly memorable, but they do have more soul and diverse personalities that can stick out better. The main problem this series had was that they killed of Clear in Final Destination 2…big mistake. She made it feel like a real sequel, and she was the only person in the series that was actually interesting (other than the manifestation of death, of course). Though, again even Tony Todd made no appearance this time (other than voice acting a couple different times). These two characters are what made the other films special. Both gone just made this series a downright Hollywood sequel, and that is something I don’t like to see happen.
Overall, Final Destination 3 at least attempted to change things up a bit, but unfortunately failed in its execution.