FEBRUARY 17, 2009
It’s no secret that the 2nd of “back to back” movies tend to suck. Matrix Revolutions and Pirates 3 are pretty good examples of why a film should be made on its own (though if you ask me, none of the Matrix films are all that great, but at least the first two work on SOME level). So I was a bit worried that Feast III: The Happy Finish would be a big disappointment. We’re talking about a series that’s already rushed and compromised due to budget restraints (I would LOVE to read Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton’s original drafts for each of the three films), so to have one made under even harsher conditions (less time, tired cast/crew) might be disastrous. So I was happy to discover that while not as successful as the other two, Feast III is still entertaining enough to qualify as a minor success.
The only real problem, besides the insanely short length (70 minutes without credits/flashbacks), is that they don’t really pull any new tricks. By now we know how it goes - horrible people tend to live longer than “safe” folks, heroic alpha male types are instant goners, etc. The only real shocker in terms of the body count is the very first one. Not that I expected this character to survive the film, but he/she dies so suddenly (literally in the first second of the film after the recap from Feast II) that it’s almost a fineable offense. I assume that the decision was based more on actor availability than anything else, but it doesn’t make it any more of a problem. I really missed their presence during the film.
Otherwise, it’s more of the same, and I mean that in a good way. I have a morbid, mean-spirited sense of humor, and thus the Feast films are little slices of heaven for me. Nothing can top the baby-tossing from II, but there are still plenty of wonderfully sick highlights. My personal favorite involved the unfortunate results of where Clu Gulager’s Bartender received his medical training (it also leads to the film’s best line: “You only need legs to kick ass!”). And even though I knew he was a goner, HOW the film’s requisite would-be hero gets taken out was brilliant.
Also, for once, bad people get what’s coming for them. Greg Swank suffers greatly through the film, and Slasher’s comeuppance is probably the most grossout moment in the film (this movie is much less gooey than the previous one). The newer characters tend to get offed rather quickly, but they all seem like decent people for once. The biggest addition is Josh Blue (he’s the only worthwhile Last Comic Standing winner) as a “prophet” who is somehow able to keep the monsters at bay. How he does so isn’t exactly a big surprise, but it’s still a funny moment, and he adds some much-needed levity and lightness to the proceedings.
One good thing about the brevity is that you get to the final 5 minutes quicker. Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that even for a Feast movie, the ending defies any sort of narrative convention (and I mean that in the most positive way possible). And then we get a theme song, which, as I explained the other day, makes any movie better.
As for the technical stuff, it’s got the same issues that the other two had - occasionally incoherent editing (I don’t have the slightest idea of what is going on in the bus scene) and scenes that are too dark to follow. For example, there’s a lengthy scene in the sewer, lit by intermittent strobe lights. It’s a great idea, but it goes on far too long - after a minute or so, we want to see what’s happening, not just glimpses of it. There’s a genius gag involving Swank’s pipe-head in the middle of it, and I fear that some folks will miss it entirely because your mind needs to work overtime in order to fill in the parts that occur offscreen in blackness. I remain excited for the day when John Gulager has all of the money and time he needs to tell his stories - those little moments of unfiltered Gulagerity (a particular character’s death vision, in a swimming pool filled with sharks) are genius, and I always get the feeling if he had his way there would be more moments like that.
On the plus side though, the greenscreen is kept to a minimum (basically the first 5 minutes of the movie, until they get off the roof), and the footage, while still pretty obviously a composited shot, is much improved. The color timing is much closer (i.e. the background and the actors have the same bluish tint); one wishes they could go back and fix the footage in Feast II, where it was much more prominent.
The DVD has a hilarious commentary with Gulager, Dunstan, Melton, and producer Mike Leahy. As always, they talk about production issues, address the fact that those who are offended by certain things are watching the wrong movie, and how hard everyone worked to pull it off. One of them also points out how good The Biggest Loser is, so that’s cool (Hey! Watch NBC!). The only other extra is a wonderful and sweet little portrait of Gulager. The odd thing is, it’s very outdated. It should have been an extra on the first Feast - it doesn’t even mention the sequels at all (in fact it seems to exist at a time before the first one was even released). Dimension also provides a whole bunch of trailers, including one for the first Feast in which the onscreen text tells a story that has nothing to do with the final film (something about government tests).
If there was ever a sequel for fans only, it’s this one. I can’t imagine anyone who didn’t like the first two to enjoy it, or even bother watching it at all. It’s not exactly “necessary” by any means, but enjoyable nonetheless, thanks to the occasional great gags and the sheer simple joy of spending another hour or so with these wacky folks. It’s like when you go to Denny’s with a few folks after a party, as an extension of that party. It’s not quite as fun, but it’s better than wasting all the leftover things you wanted to talk about.
What say you?