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Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Final Exam Week Edition 2: Ethnocentrism. . . .

"More powerful than all poetry,
More pervasive than all science,
More profound than all philosophy,
Are the letters of the alphabet,
Twenty-six pillars of strength,
Upon which our culture rests."

--Olof Gustaf Hugo Lagercrantz, Swedish author and critic (1911-2002) (Thanks to alert WORDster Steve Marston)

The Jig-SAW Puzzle 3

By Ryan Pence

November 1, 2006 | The Halloween season for some is a time to dress up in costume and parade around the neighborhood looking for hapless people to snatch some candy from. For others it's a time and excuse to throw a party, and yet for others it's a time to cause fright and be frightened. And because of the latter, Hollywood enjoys this season too much and will stop at nothing to deprive the theatergoer of mind, sense and stomach. To this end Hollywood released Saw 3, a tiring story and end to a tired series.

Story. If you saw any of the previous Saw movies, then nothing will be new for you here. The story starts pretty much where the last one left off. Jigsaw, the manic morality murderer, who proposes to play games with his victims, is at it again. This time he puts a father who can't let go of his deceased son, who was killed accidentally by drunk driver, in the game. The objective is that he has to confront people associated with the crime, forgive them and release them from various situations before they meet a gruesome demise. Unfortunately this is a horror film -- do we as audience members really, truly believe that this man will learn to forgive those that he has learned for so long to hate? No, at least not in nick of time, that is.

If the main story were not enough, there is a secondary story that's just as menial. Jigsaw, as fans of the series know, is on his deathbed with a terminal brain tumor. As his last test to his self-appointed heir, who is to continue his life's work when he dies, he forces her to learn the value human life by putting her life in the hands of another.

Positive Element. The only reason to watch this movie is for the gruesome special effects. Which, I might add, were done fairly well, well enough at least that I felt a little squeamish at some points. What sets Saw 3 apart from its predecessors and other films like it is the amount of on-screen graphic depictions of violence. Most of the time in horror films the violence is suggested, we hear a lot of noises, screams, etc, and we put the image together in our minds. Even in the overly graphic Hostel, most of the violence is implied -- for example when the woman's face is being burned with the torch we hear her screams but the action is hidden behind the torturer's back. In Saw 3 we get to see the whole thing -- if someone's going to die we see them die and how they die in all its graphic integrity.

Negative Elements. There are a lot of things in horror films that exist for our enjoyment and Saw 3 is full of them. Bad dialogue for starters, bad acting and some of the worst screen chemistry between actors imaginable. Plot holes are a big issue in this film -- lack of enough plot to fill an entire movie. There had to be at least 20 minutes of flashbacks from the other movies that were totally irrelevant to the movie at hand. Total predictability. The movie must have been made with one thought in mind: the audience must know what is going to happen so they can anticipate it happening.

Bottom Line. If this were the only movie to watch, and you could find your stomach strong enough to muster it and if you were a fan of the first two films, then by all means watch it. But if you're cup of tea isn't watching people die in grotesque manner, then pass this one by and watch something else.

Rating. This movie is rated R for strong language, nudity, violence and grisly deaths.

Ryan's Picks. Since I'm not going to suggest watching Saw 3, here are some classic horror films to tide you over.

Psycho. Alfred Hitchcock's most daring claim to fame, this is also the movie to top AFI's list of most heart-pounding movies. Even if you have never seen this movie, you will at least of heard of its infamous shower scene. The movie is wonderful in its suspense and cinematic achievement. If you haven't seen it, pick it up -- it's one of those movies you won't regret that you saw.

The Exorcist. One of the only truly terrifying movies out there; the only trouble is that over the years it has been imitated so much that much of its edge has worn off, but that by no means takes away from its brilliance. Regan, a little girl, is possessed by a demon and an exorcist is called in as last resort to help her. This is a truly fascinating movie.


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