Nudity. Gore. With nudity, "Final Destination 3" already tops its predecessor, and all around it is a better film.
"Final Destination 2" was a lousy movie from beginning to end. Logic flaws, horrible dialogue and a complete lack of suspense cursed that movie to damnation. With "Final Destination 3," writer/director James Wong, having realized he hasn't had a hit since the original "Destination" flick, returns to the franchise he started, and with him comes a much needed boost of energy. Of course, the original always was a one-off concept and so Wong has that going against him, but at least he delivers an enjoyable if not at times silly sequel.
"Destination 3" has about the same plot as the previous two, only this time the disaster is a roller coaster accident. The first movie had a plane explosion, the second had a car crash, and now a roller coaster accident. Going against the nature of sequels, things certainly aren't getting bigger with each franchise entry. The roller coaster scene, while impressively bloody, does suffer from some pretty lame special effects - not so much that it completely pulls you out of the film, but bad enough that it makes you wonder how cool the sequence could have been had another million been plugged into it. Regardless, several young people die, except for the "lucky" few who got off prematurely when one girl (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a premonition of the accident.
The implausibility of the movie is its only shortcoming, as it succeeds just about everywhere else. With the last two sequels, most of the original death scenes have been done, and this entry clearly struggles with coming up with complicated ways of causing people's untimely demises. While the deaths themselves are quite good, the coincidental events that lead up to the deaths seem a tad cheesier than before, and thus less realistic.
Still, whereas the events leading up to the death scenes are questionable, the deaths themselves are quite good. The movie is full of gory violence, and the main characters get splattered with blood more than once. One guy has a truck ram into the back of his head, splattering blood all over the side of a building. Two fake-and-bake chicks get burned alive in a tanning booth - the only thing the movie didn't show was their silicon exploding. Another girl gets several nails through the brain. If you like gory deaths, this is definitely a movie for you.
Unlike the previous film, the characters here are much more likeable and believable. Winstead delivers a strong lead performance, and this movie should be a stepping stone for a better career. Ryan Merriman is pretty good in the co-star role; he does well on turning himself into a respectable character after the movie portrays him as an annoying asshole in the beginning. Kris Lemche is a bit over the top, but his character plays a much smaller and flatter part - literally.
"Final Destination 3" suffers from some questionable coincidences, but overall is a very enjoyable and thrilling movie. The death scenes are elaborate and bloody, and director Wong develops a good sense of tension despite the fact that you know exactly what fate awaits each victim. This makes for a great group movie.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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