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October 31, 2005 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-31

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 31, 2005

ARTS

Appropriately
gruesome
sequel wreaks
more havoc
By David R. Eicke
Daily Arts Writer
"Cube with a twist" sounds like the latter end
of a drink order, but it also serves to summarize
the premise of writer/director Darren Bousman's
sequel, "Saw II." The "Cubes" in reference are, of
course, 1997's "Cube" and 2002's
"Cube 2: Hypercube," in which a Saw 11
group of strangers wake up and A
find themselves trapped in some At Showase6
foreign place riddled with death
traps. Their only chance is to work Lions Gate
together and solve number prob-
lems to get out. "Saw II," though not nearly as Kaf-
kaesque, features basically the same plot.
The movie opens with a signature gruesome
death scene in which a young man awakens to
find himself wearing some "death mask" around
his neck, which will, 60 seconds after activated,
snap shut like a Venus Fly Trap. The key to this
mask, wouldn't you know it, has been surgically
implanted in his eye socket, and he must dig it out
before time runs out or have his head aerated like
a quality front lawn.
The "Cube"-like plot takes over when a group
of strangers, including Shawnee Smith (TV's
"Becker") from the original film, wakes up in a
dark house that is slowly filling with deadly gas.
Detective Eric Mason (Donnie Wahlberg, "The

'Zorro' sequel lacks
legendary status

I

By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
FILM REVIEW
When thinking of a superhero in a
black suit with a cape and masked eyes,

the first name that
comes to mind is
Batman - but the
Caped Crusader
ain't got nothing
on the sword-tot-
ing, swashbuckling
Latin legend Zorro.
OK, fine, the Dark

The Legend
of Zorro
At the Showcase
and Quality 16
Columbia

Courtesy of Lions Gate
"Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh / Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh / Everybody's always talkin' 'bout who's on top."

Sixth Sense"), whose forlorn son is among those
trapped in the house, is on the case. One by one,
they face little morbid trials that keep with the
original "Saw's" idea of "How far would you go
to save your own life?"
While the commencement makes even stony
hearts pound, the ensuing gratuitous violence
becomes tedious, and the film falls into the trap
of being disgusting for the sake of being disgust-
ing. John (a.k.a. Jigsaw), the mastermind of this
ordeal, has no new philosophical revelations, just
the same babble about the human race no longer
having a survival instinct, employing some weak
metaphor about a puzzle piece or something. The
film attempts to portray John as a genius-villain
reminiscent of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, but the words
that do leak out of his wrinkly mouth just don't
exude the same Hannibalistic adroitness. Maybe

he needs to eat more brains. Lord knows there's
enough lying around in this movie.
Busy enough keeping their lunch down, audi-
ences must also be careful not to scrutinize the
science of this film too closely. For example, the
dude at the beginning basically had no chance due
to the fact that carving your own eye out without
losing consciousness from the pain would take a
level of virility known only to, like, Sean Con-
nery and other would-be superhumans.
In the horror genre, though, at least recently,
originality and credibility seem to be a little
superfluous, a little lower on writers and direc-
tors' priority lists. In keeping with its genre, then,
"Saw II" succeeds as an unpredictably twisty ride.
It manages to avoid hackneyed camera tricks and
even makes the audience think a little bit. But it
still makes them grimace more.

Knight might have saved Gotham from
thugs who had a thing for boiling water,
but was he there to save the poor people
of "Kalifornia" when they were overrun
by the crazed soap-bombers? No, Zorro
("Soro" to cool kids) swung on in and
saved the day. Unfortunately, his leather
lasso could do no such wonders for his
new film, the family-adventure snoozer
"The Legend of Zorro."
Set when California was on the verge
of statehood and with the Civil War
looming (wait, wasn't that the last one,
too?), "Legend" opens brilliantly with
Zorro (Antonio Banderas, "Once Upon
a Time in Mexico") carving up the bad
guys who tried to crash a statehood
party. It proceeds to take many convo-
luted turns involving tensions with his
wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones, "The
Terminal"), son Joaquin (newcomer
Adrian Alonso) and conflicts caused by
goons set on preventing statehood and
peace. Along for the ride are the crazed
French Count Armand (Rufus Sewell,
"A Knight's Tale"), bumbling U.S.
detectives, Zorro's friend and confidant
Priest Felipe (Julio Oscar Mechoso,
"Lords of Dogtown") and, of course, a
lot of soap.
"Legend" gets caught up in the same
issues that plague many of today's
sequels. What theme did. "Spiderman
2," "Shrek 2," "Star Wars Episode II:
Attack of the Clones" and "The Lord of
the Rings: The Two Towers" all have in
common? Relationship trouble. While
this can be interesting in a character-
driven drama such as "The Two Towers,"
it's laughable when predictably thrust
into the mix in a bang-bang action film

I

Production sinks Aberdeen City's latest album

Courtesy ot Columbia
"Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya.
You killed my father; prepare to die."
like "Zorro." Worse yet, Banderas seems
to have lost the natural chemistry he had
with Zeta-Jones in the first movie.
This sequel, like so many of its con-
temporaries, also lacks the ingenuity and
charm of the original. Gone is the coolest
wise-old man since Sir Alec Guinness's
Obi Wan Kenobi, Don Diego (Anthony
Hopkins). Gone too is a compelling sto-
ryline; the rehash of "Legend" is utterly
unworthy of being paired with the con-
vincing and pertinent classic action story
of its direct predecessor, 1998's "The
Mask of Zorro." But perhaps the thing
the film misses most is the elegant, one-
on-one sword duels that dominated the
original but have been replaced by bland,
pointless "Wild, Wild West"-esque
explosions and scurrying.
So is "The Legend of Zorro" entertain-
ing? Yes, but only in ways such a movie
should not be. When Zorro and his priest
friend share a profound conversation on
his relationship with his wife, their dia-
logue is hilariously overshadowed by the
priest's curiously out-of-place Brooklyn
accent. And why does the French Count
have a British accent? And why on earth
are these criminals looking to weaponize
soap? Are they cohorts of Clearasil look-
ing to give soap a bad name? If a movie
provokes such a question, can anyone
really be expected to see it?

By Jerry Gordinier
Daily Arts Writer

If you want to get the sound of
Aberdeen City frontman Brad Park-
er, take away the energetic bounce
of The Strokes's Julian Casablancas;
subtract the imagination of Radio-
head's Thom Yorke - and all that's
left is disturbingly similar sounds,
and the detached modern rock of
Aberdeen City, a band shadowed by
its predecessors. Their latest release,
The Freezing Atlantic, treads in
these shallow waters.
The issue isn't Brad Parker him-
self, but why his subdued voice is
so easily compared and dismissed.
Insipid lyrics ("You think you're
right 'cause you're handsome / At

least for another seven years") might
have something to do with it. Often
hurried, and with no coherent rhyme
scheme, the songs seem to lose their
center, noticeably on the disorient-
ing "Sixty Lives." The bittersweet
Parker sings as if he's heading out
the door to some place better.
But, to his credit, most of the fault
lies in the lackluster production.
Namely, a fog distortion and fuzz
covers almost every corner of Atlan-
tic, and the subdued Parker can't
break through the haze.
It seems as though Aberdeen City
is trying to hide something beneath
the glossy sheen and filler. Running
just under seven-and-a-half minutes,
"Brighton" suffers from hushed and
tiring sonics. "Stay Still" comes in
as heavy as a summer storm, batter-
ing the listener into uncomfortable

submission.
Aberdeen City isn't all gloss and
disaffection. For all the fabrication
that drowns the album, unique outer-
space effects buoy "God is Going to
Get Sick of Me" and rise majesti-
cally against a falling guitar line.

Parker steps back
into the recording
booth for a moment
on the earnest,
Lou Barlow-esque,
acoustic lament
"The Arrival." It's
a breath of fresh air

Aberdeen
City
The Freezing
Atlantic
Dovecote

I
I

in an album other-
wise smothered by overbearing pro-
duction. Parker whispers quietly, "So
you've got something to say / And it
won't take very long." Light, rever-
berating electric guitar comes in at a
completely sublime movement.

Though The Freezing Atlantic
comes off cold, the instrumentation
speak volumes of what could have
been. Instead of burying himself
beneath them, Parker must realize
what he's not and put away the pseu-
do-intellectual angst.

DAILY ARTS.
WE'RE GOING AS A SLUTTY JOURNALIST.

- .~'

40

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