SAW II Unseen

November 09, 2005
A thought by James Berardinelli

My decision not to review Saw II has generated a surprising volume of e-mail. Keep in mind that a decision on my part not to see and/or review a movie is not an attempt to make a statement about the film's quality. After all, until I have seen something, I can't make an assessment. In the case of Saw II, it was logistics.

During the final week of October, I saw five movies, which is an unusually high number. The Saw II press screening was in the morning on a Monday - a time that I cannot make because it conflicts with a regular meeting I moderate as part of my day job. That meant to see Saw II, I had to wait until it opened. But it wasn't first in line on my list of Friday titles - that was The Weather Man. Then, because it was a nice weekend, I decided to spend some time outside raking leaves. Once the weekend was over, I had lost interest in seeing it. Even in the best of times, theater excursions can be a pain. Maybe when it comes out on DVD...

The re-launching of "Video Views" in January will force me to curtail trips to theaters. Considering the relative quality of what's out there, it's warranted. DVD reviews will replace some of my theatrical reviews. Rough expectations for 2006 go something like this: 125 new theatrical reviews (generally 2-3 per week) and between 50-75 new DVD reviews (1-2 per week). I have written enough in ReelThoughts about how I believe that home theater will soon become a more important player in the movie industry than multiplexes, so it's time for the site to reflect that.

Some have questioned the late planned review date for Derailed. Since there's no local press screening, however, I have no choice but to see it on Friday. There's a chance the review may be up late that night but, being conservative, I'm "promising" Saturday. I don't know whether the absence of a local press screening is indicative of what's happening across the nation, but it raises alarm bells. The Weinstein Corporation is pushing this film with all of its muscle. It has star power, but TWC's unwillingness to screen it for critics may mean they have no confidence in what those stars do. Or it could mean that the local publicists don't want "second tier" journalists (everyone who doesn't write for a print daily) to see it beforehand.

For those who have missed it in the past, here's my policy on reviewing new releases. If I'm intersted in the film, I will see and review it. If I'm marginally interested the film and the screening doesn't conflict with one I'm more interested in, I'll see and review it. If I'm not interested, I probably won't bother, unless there are extenuating circumstances (nothing else opening that week, for example). I still see many bad movies, but my concern is that if I start pre-filtering too much, something good will slip through. I have to start paying closer attention to buzz and gossip - while not always reliable, those tools can help fine-tune my "bad movie radar" a little better.

Also, I rarely write a review for something I see after opening weekend. 90% or more of the traffic for a review occurs during the period from two days before it opens until three days after. If I post a review for a film on the Thursday before it opens, I'm writing that review for maybe 10,000 readers. If I post it a week later, I'm writing it for 1000 readers. Traffic is the life blood of any Internet site, regardless of whether or not it's commercial. One of the reasons I started ReelThoughts was to increase the amount of new content I can add to the site every week.

Back to Saw II... it's flattering that readers would like to hear my opinion of the film, but it doesn't fit into my hectic schedule and I'm not excited enough about the concept of the film to shoehorn it in. Yes, I liked the first one, but it isn't something I want to revisit, either by watching the first one again or experiencing the second. The next horror film I'm looking forward to on any level is Hostel, and that doesn't come out until next February.