Fri, Feb 24, 2006 - Page 16 News List

The Grim Reaper never sleeps

`Final Destination 3' doesn't spill teenage blood with as much panache or humor as the first two installments

By Nathan Lee  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

From Rebel Without a Cause to Donnie Darko, US cinema loves killing teenagers, and no one has had more fun with the motif than the brains, so to speak, behind the Final Destination franchise.

These enjoyably ridiculous movies are premised on a lunatic determinism: having survived a spectacular accident thanks to the intervention of a precognitive hottie, the characters find themselves hunted down by Death. This death force is evidently a major control freak who doesn't care to have his "design" messed with. Judging from the preposterously complex accidents he devises to finish his work, the guy would seem to be a fan of Rube Goldberg and the chain-reaction classic The Way Things Go, or maybe just bored.

In the original Final Destination, the inciting accident was a plane crash, and demise arrived via leaky toilet, speeding bus and, for one poor woman, a combination of microwave shrapnel, vodka-fueled fire, knife in the chest and the explosion of her kitchen. The sequel considerably upped the ante, starting with an outrageous freeway pileup directed with maniacal elan.

In Final Destination 3 "the destination continues!" the bad mojo spirals out from a rollercoaster gone off its tracks. In light of the shoddy computer effects in this underwhelming, under-lighted set piece, the franchise might be having the same problem. Directed by James Wong with utter indiff-erence to everything but the mechanics of death, the third installment lacks the novelty of the first, the panache of the second and the twisted sense of humor that gives the series its partici-patory sense of fun.

The movie does scratch the dead teenager itch, inventing nifty terrors in a tanning salon, a weight room, a drive-through restaurant and a home-improvement megastore. The climax includes fireworks and a berserk horse, and the requisite shock ending will give New Yorkers pause next time they see one of those obnoxious subway notices declaring, "Sometimes you have to go backward to go forward."

Film Notes:

Final Destination 3

Directed by: James Wong

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Wendy Christensen), Ryan Merriman (Kevin Fischer), Kris Lemche (Ian), Alexz Johnson (Erin), Sam Easton (Frankie Cheeks), Jesse Moss (Jason)

Running time: 92 minutes

Taiwan Release: Today


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