Final Destination 3 (New Line, R)

The macabre beauty of the film is not that you know that everyone not crucial to the plot will die—it is learning how each of the teens are going to meet his or her gory fate.

 

Ryan Merriman and Kris Lemche in New Line Cinema’s Final Destination 3

Final Destination 3, the latest installment in the franchise, is a fun romp full of teens getting smashed, dismembered, and harpooned. Director James Wong keeps the series formula intact as Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) gets the premonition that she, along with her groovy friends, are going to meet their fate by dying on a roller coaster aptly named “Devil’s Flight.” As in the previous two installments, Wendy flips out and causes seven of her friends not to take the doomed thrill ride, preventing them from shaking hands with death at 95 miles an hour.

As we have learned from the previous installments, you cannot cheat death. The Grim Reaper will find a way—an entertainingly gruesome and insanely convoluted way, it seems—to get you. The film follows Wendy and her plucky sidekick, Kevin (Ryan Merriman), as they try to warn the others about their impending doom. The macabre beauty of the film is not that you know that everyone not crucial to the plot will die—it is learning how each of the teens are going to meet his or her gory fate. While the foreshadowing of each youngster’s death may be a bit overdone, the manner in which they are disposed of is the sick charm of the film.

These rounds of gruesome deaths are some of the most inventive of the series. I particularly enjoyed how each death fit the character’s flaw. For example, the plastic girls, Ashley and Ashlynn (Chelan Simmons and Crystal Lowe), have a shockingly good time, motor mouth Frankie (Sam Easton) seems to meet his match, and a pumped up Lewis (Texas Battle) learns that the gym can be both a friend and foe. Am I giving too much away? Perhaps, but hardcore fans of the series all know how things roll in the Final Destination universe and should be pleased that Wong has not screwed with their good time.

The fact that this film does not take itself too seriously helps move the story along. It not only references its prequels, but it has a witty, if not hysterical soundtrack. Both the Ohio Players’ “Love Roller Coaster” and the O’Jays’ “Love Train” are strategically placed to give the plot a tongue-in-cheek feeling. It appeared that Wong, who also directed the first installment, knows the fine line between fun and annoying and was able to stay just on the inside of fun for this turn.

It doesn’t matter if it is a plane blowing up, a massive car crash, or a roller coaster derailing; the Final Destination series is proof that there are still films out there that actually want to entertain the audience. The movie also validates my negative stance on riding roller coaters, tanning, and working out…

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