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New Line Home Cinema presents
Final Destination 3 (2006)

"So, let me get this straight; I'm gonna OD on nail polish, and Ian is going to be embarrassed to death?"
- Erin Ulmer (Alexz Johnson)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: July 24, 2006

Stars: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ryan Merriman
Other Stars: Alexz Johnson, Kris Lemche, Texas Battle
Director: James Wong

MPAA Rating: R for (strong horror violence/gore, language, and some nudity)
Run Time: 01h:32m:42s
Release Date: July 25, 2006
UPC: 794043103728
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A-AA+ A+

DVD Review

With the abundance of horror films these days, it's nice to see a franchise continue to thrive with its own, unique formula. While not a blockbuster by any stretch, the low-budgeted Final Destination 3 turned a nice profit. One would think the budget was higher than it is though, given the impressive, realistic special effects. Rightfully so, New Line Home Video continues to treat this franchise with style, as this two-disc "Thrill-Ride Edition" delivers the goods in many ways.

This time, death is eyeing a group of teens attending a grad night excursion to the local amusement park. After a gruesome premonition of an accident on a devilish roller coaster, Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and her best friend's boyfriend, Kevin (Ryan Merriman), jump off before its next run. When her vision comes true, Wendy sets out to warn those who also got off the ride that death hasn't forgotten them. After much research, she determines that they will be picked off in the order in which they were originally seated on the ride. Fellow riders Lewis (Texas Battle), Ian (Kris Lemche), and Erin (Alexz Johnson) don't believe her, but it isn't long before death begins catching up with everyone.

The director of the original Final Destination and X-Files vet, James Wong, takes his rightful place behind the camera and keeps the blood flowing and the guts spilling. Wong's presence is felt from the opening credits on, as the atmosphere of dread that was lacking from Final Destination 2 is back. He has a tight grip on the proceedings, presenting meticulous setups to each character's comeuppance, and delivering the goods with each and every deadly payoff. Most franchises wear out their welcome long before a third film, but this is one series that could potentially go on, especially if Wong is at the helm.

The plot and characterizations are pretty implausible, of course, but anyone who calls themselves a horror fan can't deny that FD3 is a hell of a good time. The filmmakers rise above the stale formula of most slasher films by eschewing a series of boring, "when will the killer strike?" set pieces. Instead, they deliver crisp, brief scenes that continually surprised by the way in which a character is dispatched. The clichés are kept to a minimum, thanks to the writers' ability to stay true to their own established formula.

At a brisk 93 minutes, it's amazing just how many satisfying kill shots make it into the finished film. These scenes are so incredibly shocking and gory that the horror-phile in me couldn't help but joyfully laugh after each one. Call me sadistic, but this is only a movie, and my laughter serves as an escape valve used to calm myself from these sudden bursts of shock. The elaborate, catastrophic opening that grabs the audience by the throat, and the deaths that occur in a weight room (good luck sitting still during this sequence), a hardware warehouse, and a tanning salon set the bar extremely high for the future of effects-driven horror. Sure, it's imperative to suspend your disbelief to the extreme at times, but I haven't had this much fun with a studio horror film since, well, FD2.

While technically an extra feature, the "Choose Their Fate" version included allows one to interact with various choices the characters must make. These involve the flip of the coin, and the length of the film depends on the choiceof "Heads" or "Tails." For example, making a choice at an early point in the film will either allow the theatrical cut play out, or end the film after a mere 25 minutes. This is an interesting, original way to present an alternate cut on DVD, one that the people at New Line Home Video have pulled off splendidly.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: New Line delivers again with this exquisite 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Sharpness and image detail are key here, especially during the opening roller coaster ride, as every intricate piece of the ride falling apart can be seen. Robert McLachlan's cinematography is represented well thanks to excellent handling of shadow and black levels, as well as the implementation of a bright, vivid color scheme, complete with accurate fleshtones. The exterior night sequences exhibit the slightest bit of grain, but otherwise this is a problem-free transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
EX
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The trio of audio options include a DTS-ES 6.1 mix, Dolby Digital 5.1, and a 2.0 mix that pales in comparison to the first two. The DTS gets the slight nod, thanks to a bit wider dynamic range and harder bass, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 is far from shabby itself. Both the Dolby Digital and DTS exhibit excellent channel separation and liberal surround usage, and all three tracks feature crystal-clear dialogue.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring ATL, Grilled, A Scanner Darkly, Cyber Wars, Running Scared, Take the Lead
3 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Deleted Scenes
3 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director and co-writer James Wong, co-writer Olen Morgan, and director of photography Robert McLachlan.
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Choose Their Fate - Interactive feature allowing you to change the movie and the characters' destinies.
Extras Review: Extras are spread out over two discs, with some major features on Disc 1. The aforementioned Choose Their Fate version of the film is available here, in addition to a feature-length audio commentary with director/co-writer James Wong, co-writer Olen Morgan, and director of photography Robert McLachlan. This track is pretty standard, featuring its fair share of production anecdotes and story idea revelations. There's never a dull moment, though, as these filmmakers truly love (and rightfully so) what they've done with this material.

Disc 2 has It's All Around You, a great animated segment that offers examples of Fate at work and our inherent focus on death, especially after 9/11. The moniker "Dead Teenager Movie" stems from film critic Roger Ebert's review of the original Final Destination. This is an excellent documentary that not only goes deep behind the scenes of FD3, but finds plenty of time to examine the teen horror subgenre as a whole. We also get great interview footage with Ebert, as well as unforgettable footage from other New Line horror films. A wonderful surprise, Dead Teenager Movie is one of the better horror documentaries I've seen.

Kill Shot: The Making of FD3 is a whopping 88 minutes long. There's a ton of footage of the shoot, but there's also a comprehensive look at the film's pre-production, makeup tests, and an original test ending that early audiences didn't like. The filmmakers go into great detail about the drastic decision they made about the main characters' fates, and how the studio backed this choice. Severed Pieces is another, much shorter (13 minutes) documentary that focuses on the technical aspects from the sound effects to the use of miniatures.

There's also an Extended Police Station Scene (One Shot Version) that runs for two minutes and is an interesting alternate version of this sequence. As far as promotional material goes, there is a collection of previews for other New Line releases, as well as Planned Accidents, a 20-minute featurette that parodies old instructional videos, then goes on to be an above-average EPK piece. The theatrical trailer is also here, along with three TV spots.

Extras Grade: A+

 

Final Comments

New Line has yet to disappoint with their top horror franchise, and Final Destination 3 is no exception. Another collection of stunning special effects set pieces and buckets of gore, this truly frightening film is almost certain to be a DVD hit. It helps that this two-disc set features such impressive audio (DTS!) and video, and contains a second disc with some of the best documentaries you're going to find for a genre release.

 


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