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Saw III (Unrated)

Lions Gate
Movie F
Special Features C-
DVD Geek Factor: Sucks!

Having been such a non-fan of the first two Saw films, I deliberately avoided No. 3 in theaters, and had no intention of watching it on DVD either. But, some folks (mostly in elevators) have lambasted me for not appreciating the grisly series, declaring the third one to be the best. So, because I really have no life, I popped this in on a Friday night to see what's up. My conclusion is that all the Saw films suck in this order: Saw II sucks the most, Saw III sucks the second most, and the original Saw sucks the least, yet it still sucks, thanks mostly to the hilarious Cary Elwes-bleeding-to-death scene.

I think that Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), the cancer-stricken, game-playing torture artist at the center of these films, is the most ridiculous, tedious slasher villain since Jason "Friday the 13th" Voorhees himself. The stuff this guy comes up with to torture people is beyond reason, and his damned monotonous groan and stupid puppets just don't frighten me.

This one starts with Saw II's last victim, Donnie Wahlberg, going through some familiar steps to remove his leg from a shackle. As it turns out, this is just a way to start the movie, with Wahlberg's character meaning very little to the film. He's just one of many flashbacks, including some back to the first film, that make this movie feel a little like the second Back to the Future movie. You know, the one where Marty McFly journeys back into the original movie to find a sports almanac? Oh, never mind.

It's a sequel, so that means director Darren Lynn Baousman will up the ante on the torture chambers. The most ridiculous one would be where a victim is trapped in a well, while many rotten pigs are dropped into a grinder, their blended guts filling up the reservoir to the point where the victim will eventually drown. I estimated the budget of this particular torture device at about $2 million, give or take a couple of hundred thousand. That Jigsaw's got a lot of money and time.

Among the visual delights would be an improvised operation on Jigsaw's head to relieve some pressure in his brain. I have to admit, this scene is somewhat impressive in its gruesomeness. Not saying I enjoyed watching it all that much, but the special-effects guys did do a rather convincing job of showing the likely steps in a brain operation, right up to the part where you cut away the protective sack separating brain from skull. All of us who view it will probably wind up better brain surgeons as a result.

A fourth Saw, and probably 900 more, are on the way. Considering how this one ends, I'm thinking the next one will be a prequel. Perhaps it will show us Jigsaw in torture training school, where he learned how to create and fund all of his sick devices. Shit, he probably had to log 500 hours just to master the art of puppetry. Puppets riding bikes, no less.

I hate these movies!

Special Features: Three commentaries. That's right, three commentaries. If you manage to sit through every one of them, you have far too much time on your hands.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

Movie: B
Special Features: B
DVD Geek Factor: 6 (out of 10)

Kirby Dick, a director outraged with the secrecy and hypocrisy of the MPAA, hires a private investigator to reveal the identities of those who rate our movies, and eventually submits the very documentary we are watching for a rating as well.

Dick does a decent job of wrangling maverick filmmakers like Kimberly Pierce, Kevin Smith and John Waters for candid interviews about the hell the MPAA put them through by brandishing their films with the dreaded NC-17 rating. As the documentary reveals, most films given the NC-17 get it for sex rather than violence. The movie shows that censorship is alive and well in the American film industry, and a strange and secretive cabal is responsible for what we are allowed to see. Dick's film isn't always solid moviemaking, his picture is actually a little sloppy at times, but it's always fascinating to watch.

Special Features: Some great deleted scenes, including Kevin Smith talking about the NC-17 rating his Clerks originally received. A commentary with the director, one of the private investigators and a guy from the Ain't It Cool News Web site adds additional insight.

Jesus Camp

Movie: A-
Special Features: B
DVD Geek Factor: 6.75 (out of 10)

Al Gore's cheery little film about how we are all going to die will probably win the documentary Oscar this year, but I would throw the statuette at this frightening movie about religion and how it can fuck you up. The film follows some kids as they journey to a Jesus Camp, where some whacked-in-the-head adults fill their brains with shit. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Jesus is shit. Religion can be a wonderful thing, but it can also corrupt a soul when misused, and the folks in this film definitely misuse it. This is a SCARY MOVIE.

Special Features: Deleted scenes and a commentary by the directors.