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Discuss this week's Joe Loves Crappy Movies here!

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Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.

Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.

With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.

Saw 4

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Lyriq Bent, Athena Karkanis

Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman

Lionsgate Pictures

The Official Site of Saw IV

Discuss Saw IV on the boards!

There are two kinds of Saw movies, ones that follow the formula and ones that forget to. That formula - putting very complicated people in a seemingly simple life or death situation. “Two men wake up in a room with their legs chained to the walls.” That sort of thing. The most interesting thing is not the traps that the people are placed in but figuring out who they are and why they were trapped in the first place. The more we learn about them, the more complex and engaging the story becomes and that’s why the premise and story of the first Saw worked so successfully.

For the Saw formula it’s important that we’re interested in the characters, or that we’re at least given an appropriate amount of background on them, otherwise it’s just a body in a trap. That’s plenty entertaining and terrifying for the introductory sequences where people have to dig keys out of their eyes or crawl through a barbed wire maze, but the lasting characters in the franchise are the ones who’s paths intermingle with everyone else’s. That’s why Saw 2 should have work. It doesn’t because it was overloaded. Too many characters, too many traps, not enough time to care about anybody. The film works the best when it connects back to the original and in its pieces that act as a bridge to the third film.

Those of you that have seen Saw III will remember its grueling opening where Donnie Wahlberg, who stared as Detective Matthews in Saw II, crushed his ankle to escape Jigsaw’s shackles. But if Saw II is only good because it makes Saw III better then was it ever good at all? I find myself asking this of the latest addition to the franchise, Saw IV

Saw III was a nice return to the formula of complicated characters in simple situations. We follow one man as he faces the people in his past who are “responsible” for the death of his son and his killer’s freedom. He confronts each of these people one by one and is given the opportunity to forgive them and save them from their traps. Again – the characters have a deep connection, and because the film is not truncated with a large scale we’re able to relate to and understand them. It works. While making the third film, the minds behind Saw were aware of Saw IV waiting on the horizon. This time they gave themselves options and backdoors with in the film to play with in the follow-up. A good idea considering that in Saw III they killed all the bad guys. And just like everyone has been telling you – Jigsaw really is dead. No tricks. In fact, just to drive it home, the film opens with his unnecessarily detailed autopsy, very reminiscent of the nerve-racking brain surgery scene in the third film.

In following the formula, Saw IV is indeed convoluted with connections to the past including an extended look into who Jigsaw was before he became a killer, and what it was that drove him over the edge. This portion of the movie plays like Jigsaw Beginnings, and I’d complain about weak flashbacks if it wasn’t the first time in the franchise we’ve had a chance to see the actor that plays Jigsaw, Tobin Bell, do any acting beyond a strong whisper. He’s good and he carries these scenes well enough that you start praying for an evil twin to carry on his work.

No such luck. No evil twin to save the day, just a mysterious figure out there that is doing Jigsaw’s bidding from beyond the grave and continuing his masterful game. This becomes the big mystery of the movie as we follow two sets of characters trying to solve it.

The first is Lyriq Bent who plays idealistic police sergeant Riggs, a man obsessed with saving everybody before he gets captured and thrust into the game. Bent had a brief part in the third film and does well here as we follow him on a series of tasks confronting trapped people from his past (ala SAW III – the formula evolves!). This was pretty good stuff even if the traps this time around were less fierce than I expected. They were as clever and intricate as they’ve ever been, just not as chilling. I can’t decide if I spoiled myself too much this time around by watching two of the trap sequences online and at Comic Con. I feel like I may have desensitized myself to their full effect on the big screen, but for the most part I was unimpressed and not really scared. And I get scared easily. Seriously easily. Like “Puppets from Labyrinth easily. And by Labyrinth I mean Fraggle Rock.

The second path we follow is that of two FBI agents used to connect the missing Riggs storyline and the flashbacks courtesy of the interrogation of Jigsaw’s ex-wife ( Betsy Russell). I liked the addition of the investigation, something part III left out, but that was very present in parts I and II. I think two groups racing against the clock works pretty well, but it felt very disconnected here even with Scott Patterson from the Gilmore Girls leading the charge.

I can forgive part IV for its less than impressive characters, because now that I know the formula, I realize that this is just a bridge. It doesn’t matter that these characters are boring or insignificant, because this is just a little break in the road that gives us the material we need as an audience so they can hit us with something big next time around. And it’s not like they even hold back here. That secret figure that’s carrying out Jigsaw’s game - they reveal who that is. To Saw fans I can imagine this was an insignificant reveal because they don’t really bother to explain why. It made for the weakest ending of the bunch so far, which is unfortunate because a clever twist is the one thing that saved part II from missing the mark completely.

I can accept Saw IV as a bridge setting up something special, but there are good ways to do this and bad ways to do this. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for example is a bridge movie. A lot of really wonderful, entertaining stuff happens in that film where people die and people grow up and Harry comes into his own, but really it’s just the wind up for the home run in part 6. A movie like that, or even like Empire, is a brilliant example of how intensely entertaining these in-between movies can be. The gang at Saw seem content in looking towards the future. It worked though. They got our money and they’ll probably get it next year too.

Rating: 6 out of 10 - As Saw falls into a Star Trek like pattern of “one good movie, one bad movie” I find myself wondering if the year turn around on these films that get released every Halloween is stifling them. On the DVD commentary for part III director Darren Lynn Bousman expressed how intensely involved it is to produce them so quickly. I get the impression here that they had a great idea long term that needed some proper set-up, and that their goals were focused too much on what might happen in 2008 instead of what should happen in 2007. I could be completely wrong but for the sake of the franchise I hope it’s true. I really hope there’s something waiting for us next year that will make the franchise interesting again. Otherwise I won’t care what characters are connected in the larger story of the world of Saw. Because I won’t be.

Doubtful, but I’m sure I’ll be itching to see it again next October, if only to refresh myself for the fifth movie. The thing is, you can never tell what I’ll do if they release a special edition DVD set with a free movie ticket for that sequel inside. I’m such a sucker for a good deal, even if I can’t remember how disgustingly disappointing the ending of the movie I‘m buying is.

If I do end up buying Saw IV then I’m an idiot because, free ticket or not, if the fifth movie improves upon the messy ending of IV even in the slightest, then it would’ve been worth the 10 bucks anyway.

Looking for stuff on the web for Saw IV wasn’t what you would call difficult. A simple search at Youtube will yield hours of entertaining footage ranging from spoiler clips of Jigsaw’s autopsy to the obsessive teenage ramblings of this dude. But the most impressive thing I found online for the most popular “torture porn” franchise of our time is an event set up to help victims of violence. I’m talking about the 4th Annual Saw IV Blood Drive.

The drive, sponsored in part by Lionsgate Films and Yahoo, returns for its fourth year generating awareness and collecting blood across the nation. Looking at the effectiveness of this event over the four year period is very encouraging as, like Saw’s box office take, the numbers seem to grow with ever outing. If you’re interested in donating blood, you can locate the closest location through the Blood Drive’s official site, but if the drive continues to grow, perhaps by the time Saw X rolls around they’ll be able to take it to the theaters, inspiring moviegoers to donate on sight.

It’s encouraging that the Saw franchise strives to be more than just a gore-fest. Making an entertaining series of slasher pictures is easy, but to take that success and use it to help the victims of something your movie supposedly glorifies is remarkable and admirable.

I Am Legend - At a glance, the new Will Smith film I Am Legend with its sprawling shots of a long vacant Manhattan and slice-of-life moments of a man left alone in the biggest city in the world, all with the unseen but inevitable threat just waiting to reveal itself, looks to be an exciting new idea on a Big Willie budget. But the deeper we travel into the preview the more it reveals itself to be just more of the same. It’s another monster movie using the same tricks, the same scares, and the same audiences that will undoubtedly line up for it.

It’s not fair to jump to any conclusions, especially after 30 Days of Night a couple weeks ago which used those same horror movie fundamentals but still managed to deliver them in an exciting way. And you can never count out Smith who decided to chase monsters this year instead of awards. He’s one of this generations best action heroes and it’s always a lot of fun when he shows up to remind us that.

Legend is based on a cult classic novel by Richard Matheson. I’ve not read the book, but thought I might over the next month before the films release. My natural concerns are spoiling the movie and not being able to separate the two. Nothing kills a great movie more than expectations or comparisons. But I’ve had some luck with this method in the past. Reading the books for Zodiac and Into the Wild and another great Smith adventure I, Robot helped me navigate their broad structures but coincidently, also resulted in my not reviewing the films. I would hate for that to happen again, but curiosity is getting the better of me I’m afraid…

Not much to say today. I’m sorry for the hold up on the comic. Yeo was sick towards the end of the week and it carried over into the weekend. It felt wrong to leave her in the middle of the night to go watch a pig-faced monster torture people. And even after seeing the movie on Friday it felt wrong to leave her alone while I reflected on how disappointing Ms. Piggy was. But I hope the comic was worth the wait.

Tonight on the Triple Feature we’ll be talking about… well I’m not sure what we’ll be talking about. Gordon and Tom have made it clear that they’re not too big on the Saw films. I’d be up for discussing Dan In Real Life which I found to be surprisingly warm and entertaining, but perhaps I can persuade them to discuss something more neutral like the impending strike that will shut down Hollywood, the outing of Dumbledore, or the newly surfaced pictures of theAliens Vs. Predator hybrid. It’s been a weird and busy week.

Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!

Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - The Introduction

Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.

First Appearance - Fever Pitch

Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.

First Appearance - V for Vendetta

Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison

Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.

First Appearance - 300

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe

Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.

First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet

Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.

First Appearance - Four Brothers

Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.

First Appearance - Ultraviolet

Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.

First Appearance - The Producers

Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!

Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?

First Appearance - Saw IV

Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V