Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell (2001)

JANUARY 7, 2013

GENRE: SUPERNATURAL
SOURCE: STREAMING (NETFLIX INSTANT)

Two people told me over Twitter that Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell was the absolute worst of the series, but so far to me that's like deciding on the least healthy Oreo in the box, or maybe the "stupidest" tree in a forest. I mean, come on, it's a franchise built around a concept that gets old after two kills and a lot of gibberish plotting that changes from film to film - if a sequel can manage to keep an image on the screen from start to finish, they've measured up to the promise of the original.

That said, I can see where they are coming from. First off this one is noticeably cheaper than the others, with anonymous Winnipeg locales replacing the slightly more characterized Los Angeles backdrop of the first two - nothing like a trip to Canada to shout out "We're trying to stretch our dollar!" to your audience. And forget about the icon cameos from the first film or even the Bokeem Woodbinery of the 2nd - apart from heroine AJ Cook (before Final Destination 2, hell, before Ripper even) and a brief early role from Emmanuelle Vaugier, the only recognizable actor here is Jason Connery as the evil Professor who serves as the movie's villain.

And before you get an image of Sean Jr in heavy prosthetic makeup, please note that he only appears as himself throughout the film, with the "demon" form of the Djinn (now played by John Novak) only appearing very briefly before taking Connery's skin and saving the production from too many makeup jobs. It's sort of a slap in the face to Novak that he only got to play the thankless part of the role (though not as ridiculous/confusing as say, Scott Adkins playing Ryan Reynolds in Wolverine), but at least there's an explanation for it since he's impersonating another character and thus even with makeup it'd be weird if they looked alike, but it feels like a storytelling decision designed around an actor's refusal to put on the suit.

The FX on the kills are pretty lame too; many of them are off-screen or pretty simple. "Blow me!" a guy says, and thus Wishmaster "blows" him off his feet so he flies back and gets impaled on a statue. And if you think some of his acts in part 2 were contrived, they're barely even trying here - one girl wishes she could hide from him and thus he... forces her inside a rat cage, where the rats proceed to nibble her to death. Huh? Plus a lot of the usual shit where he's totally leading them into what he wants to do, which takes the fun out of it. It's almost like this concept doesn't lend itself to sequels that require more kills and (in theory) more creative ways of doing them!

Luckily, there's an inkling of a decent twist this time around, as he fucks himself over by egging Cook on by demanding she wish something, so she wishes that the Archangel Michael would help out. So her boyfriend becomes superpowered and gets this badass sword - it's ridiculous, but it's at least somewhat inspired. There's also a fun idea that they don't utilize nearly enough, that if she kills herself before making her three wishes, the Djinn will be killed as well - so naturally she tries to kill herself and he has to save her. As usual, I'm not sure what exactly he hopes to accomplish, but it's charming in a silly way that he has to stick around this boring college campus for the entire movie, biding his time by killing off random students while he waits for Cook to screw up and wish for three things.

And I will actually THANK the movie that she never wishes for the strength to tell her boyfriend how she feels. Because as this movie is apparently aimed at 15 year old girls that are sad that Twilight doesn't exist yet, Cook can't say "I love you" to her boyfriend, and he's all impatient and what not, with friends saying things like "Just give her time!" more often than the Djinn gets to say "Don't you wish...". Thus (SPOILER!!!) the movie of course ends with her finally telling him she loves him, and not using one of her wishes to do so. Awww. Wishmaster 3, you old softy.

Oh, there's a scene ripped out of Terminator 2, for some reason. Hack joke to be sure, but I can't help it - "I wish I was watching that instead". Luckily, there's only one more to go, and those pals who hated on this one said it was a huge improvement. So, the Oreo with a little extra glob of creme, then?

What say you?

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