Well one step forward two steps back.
Death got bored again and unable to think of any clever plot contrivance ala Part 2, he decided, “Maybe that cute girl from Scott Pilgrim and Death Proof will notice me if I send her psychic visions.” So like a nervous schoolboy leaving a note on her desk, Death sends a fiery vision of death via rollercoaster, and then after she saves the lives of yadayadayda instead decides that he’s better off just killing everyone again. (If these movies have an inherent flaw its that they’re front loaded. Without exception the most impressive scene has been the opening one.)
The film brings back original writing team of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Wong returns to the director’s seat as well. Unfortunately it kind of shows. I may have had my issues with the first Final Destination, but one thing you can say for it is that it played things straight. Final Destination 3 tries to blend the approaches of Part 1 and 2. Going for over the top kills during the death scenes and solemn gravitas inbetween. It’s classic have your cake and eat it too and the mix just doesn’t work.
The fact is that it’s pretty clear that Wong and Morgan don’t have a whole lot of ideas this time out. I mean there’s no way you can tell me that they wrote the original Final Destination with the word Franchise in mind. They don’t feel all that invested in the characters, every one is stock and not particularly well written stock (Wait why is the Goth Kid even at the popular girl’s funeral, let alone making a scene “defending” her there.) Even as an intensely likeable and crush worthy actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, can only do so much with her unlikable, flat character. It feels like Wong’s most frequent direction to her must have been, “Furrow your brow.” The most they can come up with to shake up the formula this time out is to make all the main characters atheists this time out. Er- edgy?
As for the death scenes, they’re fun, if not as much fun as the one’s in the last installment. They’re pretty far over the top (like the tanning bed fry up) and go for short punchy shocks over complex Rube Goldberg machinations. This actually isn’t that bad of a trade off. What the film loses in momentum thanks to this it gains in shock. The weight lifting death is possibly my favorite in the series.
Out of the three Final Destination films I’ve seen so far this is probably my least favorite. It’s still not bad, but it feels just sort of there. Without part one’s earnestness or part two’s gleeful over the top savagery. And the absence of Tony Todd knocks things down at least one full notch for me. In short, if you’re a fan of the franchise this deliver’s the goods, albeit not as well as the others. If you’re a doubter stick to Two.