I commented on Shaun of the Dead the other day. It was better than anticipated. Of Jet Li's Hero I'll say the reverse. Saw also turned out to be a better movie than expected. If I seem to be watching more movies lately, it is because I am doing so. Television has throttled down to only a few shows for me maybe twice a week. Not long ago there was some series with a new show for every night of the week.
Hero or Ying xiong
I had very high expectations of this one, but liked it less than I thought I would. Now, that said, it is an excellent movie. The martial arts moves (that don't involve the hidden talent of Chinese people to fly) are better than I've seen anywhere. I am not the best judge of subtlety, but I actually stopped the movie, moved close to the screen (for me that means inches away) and watched the fight scenes again. I think that Jet Li has officially taken position at the head of my list of martial arts performers - a spot held by Bruce Lee until this movie.
I expected a grisly slasher film. I wasn't actually disappointed, but I also found very good acting and a lot of plot and dialog seldom found in this genre. Cary Elwes, who I failed to notice until The Princess Bride is someone I have been watching since that time. He has turned in a number of excellent performances and has garnered some major nominations and minor awards while failing to become the leading man I thought we would see of him. In Saw he exhibits his best qualities. He portrays the low-key intensity that he seems to have mastered, and provides a strong undercurrent throughout the movie. Unknown, at least to me, Leigh Whannell, has been on the scene since 2000 and the movie Stygian. This is the first time I have noticed him and his performance has focused my attention. I expect some good things of him. Think of the love child of John Cusack and Edward Norton. Leigh Whannell seems to have the best qualities of each as an actor. If he can show some range and pick some good roles ...
Saw was very successful in inspiring cringes and gritted-teeth moments. I expected a gore fest and was treated to a tense, well-scripted, well-acted, hour and forty-two minutes that drew me along and involved me strongly enough that I honestly had no idea how much time I'd spent watching. If you want some profoundly disturbing chills this is for you.