Is "Saw 3D" Worth 17 Bucks a Ticket?

Ever wonder how a film almost unanimously panned by critics still manages to reach the top of the Box Office? Perhaps there actually is a disconnect between film critics and audiences, as often reported by those in the film industry itself. Consider most Will Ferrell-starring vehicles or any entry in the "Twilight" saga.

Such is the case with the in-your-face, and at times gruesome, "Saw 3D". The film hods a fairly accurate, yet also somewhat misleading title, given its status as the seventh chapter in the once-highly popular horror franchise. Usually, the use of the term "3D" in a title will be used for the third installment in a film series (think "Jaws 3-D" or "Toy Story 3D"). It's also hard to believe the film franchise has reached title number seven given the fact that the first film premiered -- to huge financial success -- just in 2004.

In the hopes of staying fresh, the producers are distributing this film in the as-of-late trendy 3-D format, a first for a "Saw" title. The latest in this puzzle-infused gore fest, which hits theaters nationwide this weekend, is expected to slash its rivals with ticket sales, given the appropriate timing of release on Halloween weekend.

Audiences, especially younger viewers, are looking for a scare this season and "Saw 3D" may just deliver at the cinema. But this newest eye-popping sequel, which stars "Jigsaw" veteran Tobin Bell along with Cary Elwes (who returns from the first film after a lengthy hiatus from the series), has managed to gain some pretty flat responses from prominent news outlets. In fact, the critics themselves are the ones committing most of the butchering.

"You know things are bad when you've started feeling sorry for your villain," wrote Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News, punishing the film with a one (out of five) star review.

"The sole mercy shown by Lionsgate's latest 'Saw' is that it's billed as the last and plays that way," Variety's Rob Nelson said in his assessment. Adam Graham of The Detroit News felt that "'Saw 3D' is the dumbest and most illogical entry in the 'Saw' series -- quite an accomplishment, given that the 'Saw' movies are the dumbest, most illogical series of horror films of the millennium."

The press even blasted the use of the 3-D format here, with The Hollywood Reporter describing the added element as "inconsequential." In his review for the L.A. Times, Michael Ordona said that there's "no point in paying the 3-D ticket price for occasional bits of gristle flying your way, or blurry action shots...the filmmakers have so lost their fastballs that this one's extreme gore provokes either laughter or sleep."

One of the few positive notes came from Owen Gleiberman of Entertaintment Weekly, who awarded a grade of B- as he wondered if "there is some correspondence between the violence in a film like 'Saw 3D' and the levels of anger and resentment that have been slowly and steadily rising in America." An interesting note, given fan and overall viewer response to the film so far.

While "Saw 3D" currently maintains a measly nine percent critic's approval on the Rotten Tomatoes site, 76 percent of audience members said that they enjoyed this latest horror sequel. And with its seemingly endless amount of gore taken to a whole new depth, die-hard fans of this horror series are still expected to be thrilled.

"Saw 3D" distributed by LionsGate Films and with a running time of 91 minutes, is now playing in wide release.

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    Ken Lombardi is an entertainment reporter for CBS News. He has interviewed over 300 celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.