InsidePulse DVD Review – Final Destination 3(Thrill Ride Edition)

Final Destination 3

Directer by James Wong

Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Ryan Merriman
Kris Lemche
Alexz Johnson
Sam Easton

Release date: July 25th 2006.
Running Time: 93 minutes
Rated: R

Ah, what can be said about the Final Destination series? Truly, they rank as guilty pleasure if ever there were such things. Final Destination 3 takes no departures from the successful formula of the first. That formula is:

A. Hire a bunch of teen actors, the most recognizable of which is a secondary character from a WB show.
B. Create thinner than carboard cut-out characters to fill the such archetypical roles of Jock, Token, Angry Goth, Skeptic, Horny Sleazebag, Plucky Sibling, Nubile Co-eds, and Final Girl. (The DVD actually refers to the characters as such in the “Dead Teenager Movie” extra on disc two.)
C. Have said characters avoid a big catastrophe by virtue of one’s prophetic vision, only to be chased down by death and offed one by one.

While this formula might not sound like very much fun, it really is. The perverse entertainment comes from a couple of factors:
1. Since the characters are so thin, we can guiltlessly watch them die without feeling at all bad about it.
2. One Mr. Death, apparently bored from several millennia at the job, has the hobby of setting up these elaborate Rube Goldberg devices with which to kill off these teens. There is a bit of sleight of hand at play, wherein characters narrowly sidestep an obvious death in favor of a far more interesting one.
3. The films never take themselves very seriously, and effectively walk a fine line between genuine scares, splatter, dark comedy, decent special effects, action and stunt sequences.

So what these things leave us with is a sort of duality. There is a predictability in the death of each character, but also an unpredictability in the method. There is a stupidity and a brilliance in both the writing and direction. You’ll have awkward moments of character development where it is revealed that the Final Girl is a control freak, by various characters saying this thing about her. But, there are also some genuinely good and funny bits here too.

As a movie on DVD. Final Destination 3 is worth watching, but far from Citizen Kane.

But James Wong and crew have upped the ante a bit for this release. You see, this 2 disc “thrill ride edition” affords the viewer a bit of a Choose Your Own Adventure movie. You are given the option to watch the film in a “Choose Their Fate!” version. That is to say, that during the course of the movie a menu will occasionally pop up offering watchers different options. For instance, you can decide whether or not a character calls heads or tails on a flipped coin, whether a character adjusts the thermostat to 73 or 76 degrees, etc. Each of these choices affects the course of the movie, sometimes a little, sometimes quite a bit. It’s an interesting marriage of dvd features with a Sega CD game, and is genuinely the most fun one can have watching deleted/alternate scenes. Such options might have some negative effects on “films as art” some time down the road, but for now it certainly provides an entertaining night.

Other Extras

Disc one of the DVD contains the director’s cut of the flick and “Choose Their Fate!” mode. It also contains a commentary track with the film-makers, where they reminisce about “The X-Files” and point out homages to other films. (Although, they fail to mention certain scenes that seem lifted from The Omen and Batman. So it goes.)

While one disc might be more Final Destination than some need, we are still given a second. Disc two contains 90 minutes worth of “making of” featurettes that can be watched in 10 separate parts or all as one big doc called “Kill Shot”. It also contains a featurette called “Dead Teenager Movie” which examines FD3, the genre of dead teen movies, the sociological and psychological aspects of these things, and features some interesting comments by the likes of Roger Ebert and Fangoria magazine. The thing is bookended by shills for Newline DVDs, but otherwise is worth watching.

If that is not enough, Disc two also contains an amusing animated short about death and statistics entitled, “It’s All Around You” as well as trailers, commercials, an alternate extended version of one scene, and a 20 minute roller coaster based promo piece called “Planned Accidents”.

InsidePulse’s Ratings for Final Destination 3
(OUT OF 10)






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