By Michael Ferraro | February 11, 2006

The premise of trying to cheat death has always been interesting enough to put this franchise ahead of other recent horror monstrosities but it has never been explored to its fullest potential. Director James Wong makes his return to the series he started, after bowing out for 2003’s lackluster sequel, only to essentially remake the first film. There are differences, and they are apparent, but formulaically speaking, it’s the same movie. Instead of an airplane tragedy, he settled with a rollercoaster accident. Turn the main character into a female, switch some races around, and voila – you’ve just made “Final Destination 3.”

High school senior and yearbook photographer Wendy Christensen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) journeys to a graduation celebration at a local fair. Upon arrival, she becomes incredibly suspicious of every little noise, movement, and flashy light this carnival has to offer. When she finally makes her way to ride on a Satan-themed rollercoaster with a group of friends, a terrifying vision of doom makes its way into her head, causing her to walk away from the ride to watch the imminent chaos from the sidelines. Just like before, others escape as well which only prolongs the death they had so rightly deserved in the first place.

To even further their survival, Wendy discovers clues in various photographs she took that night. Most of the gang is reluctant to hear such a ridiculous sounding story but after more and more of them end up in the coffin, they each pitch in to figure out who’s next and what might happen to them.

The film takes a little time to finally get off the ground. Screenwriters Wong and Glen Morgan spent too much time trying to develop these boring and clichéd characters. When it finally gets going, we are exposed to one painfully malicious death scene after another. Since the film has the feel of a straight-to-video release, Wong may not know a thing or two about crafting together an interesting visual style but he sure understands the importance of using everyday objects – like a tanning bed – as tools for destruction.

If only they took this ride more seriously, creating interesting characters an audience can connect with instead of filling them with typical high school stereotypes, “Final Destination 3” could have been a more exhilarating experience.

It’s obvious that we aren’t supposed to watch these films for intricate plot or intriguing characters. We are here for the gore – which this film has plenty of. Too bad it doesn’t have much else.

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