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Dinah’s Rating: 6.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 4.3/10
(3 ratings total)
Beginning in 2004, the Saw franchise has been synonymous with Halloween weekend. Although it is typically categorized as horror, Saw and its sequels are actually gruesome thrillers with intricate plots and twisted endings. The latest entry ups the ante with additional traps, welcomes flashbacks of Jigsaw and returning characters from previous installments. Saw fanatics are a feisty brood and they will no doubt enjoy, albeit with bittersweet ambivalence, the final chapter to the long-running series.
Jumping in at the seventh film is doable though any Saw fan will tell you having a marathon of all the films is a delightful yearly tradition. The story is intrinsically linked to vengeful mastermind Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) who nearly lost his life in a car accident while in a suicidal depression. Upon nearly dying he found renewed reason for life. He began “testing” people thereafter, using both elaborate and simple torture devices and games to teach people the value of life.
Jigsaw’s longtime apprentice, Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), has been a central player since the events of Saw II though he was introduced in Saw III. Jigsaw’s wife Jill (Betsy Russell) plays a large part in his games. Since Jigsaw’s death, Jill and Hoffman have turned sour on one another. At the end of Saw V, Jill placed Hoffman in a nearly unbeatable trap. She clearly wanted him dead but he narrowly escaped and is on the hunt for her throughout Saw 3D. In the meantime self-help guru Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery) gathers survivors of Jigsaw’s traps. He is a Jigsaw survivor milking the public with his story. He comes complete with a shady PR team and lawyer who inevitably find themselves suffering in Dagen’s game.
There are plenty of cool traps this go-around. As in the case of Jeff in Saw III, the central game is for one player given opportunities to save loved ones from room to room. Each test is times and the central player must complete every test before his game is up. Other traps are shown in flashbacks and dream sequences in the sort of rapid motion that gives a deliberate nod to the original. These winks carry throughout but are subtle enough not to distract from the tone of the movie.
Returning characters are the most valuable and believable aspect of the series. Simone (Tanedra Howard) from Saw IV continues raging against her trap. It was fitting that not every survivor is happy to have been tested. A person just tried to kill you and you gather together in a room to speak thankfully about him? It simply doesn’t make sense. The shot of realism was a welcome anecdote. Cary Elwes is effectively creepy as the fan-favorite, Dr. Gordon. Costas Mandylor is a beast. Although he has by this point become a villain, Hoffman can be applauded for his cold calculating use of a shank.
Flannery does his best with the dialogue he’s been given. His character’s wife and cohorts however, are quite terrible in their delivery. The acting abilities of the side characters most closely resemble soap opera acting. The dialogue is stilted, forced, and offers no intimacy with the audience. Within the state of game play, when acting terrified and confused, the poor performances are easily overlooked. The trap becomes the focal point and nothing else matters.
The marketing for Saw 3D promised the traps in the final installment of the torture would come alive. Trailers never went into the storyline. Instead they depicted audience members in the theaters being pulled into the traps. The 3D was well done, however it isn’t absolutely necessary to enjoy the film. The guts flying and point-of-view shots are fun and disgusting. If the $3.50 surcharge doesn’t bother you, check this movie out with a funky pair of glasses.
With the added 3-D technology, Saw 3D was produced for a scant $17 million, just $7 million more than the previous entry. The studio spent the added dollars on more traps but it could have used a longer running time to add more depth. Better yet, put some dollars behind better actors. The torture fest still has that same glossy look and appeal fans are used to but nothing else besides the 3D technology to show for the extra bucks.
It’s hard to say goodbye to a series after such a consistent tradition. No ending can please everyone all the time and Saw 3D is no exception. Fans of certain prior characters may be disappointed in the outcome. The creators most certainly read Saw fan pages and have catered this final film to meet the expectations of that core group of loyal consumers. However, this lack of originality exposes the film to predictability.
As a necessary conclusion Saw 3D hits the mark. It summarily wraps up loose ends Saw fans care about. But the writers could have been more creative in its use of past characters including Jigsaw himself, John Kramer. Along the same lines there was too much coldblooded killing which doesn’t fit with Saw lore and Jigsaw’s purpose. This sort of gaff is sloppy and indicative of a rush to put greater emphasis on traps than story. Altogether the film is satisfying and cringe inducing in quality 3D. Saw fans will love it; anyone else dragged along will have their eyes closed.
Directed by Kevin Greutert
Written by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan
Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Cary Elwes, Betsy Russell, Sean Patrick Flannery
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Simon thought: “Saw 3D is a mixed blessing. It does what it can with the fatigue it has accumulated over six previous films, and the resolution more or less achieves what I would have hoped, thought not quite in the manner for which I would have pined. The Jigsaw heir, Det. Hoffman, was a fine enough character when introduced all those films ago, but not only has he now replaced the much more interesting character of John Kramer himself, but has turned into a simple butcher and slices away any of the logic (as twisted as it may be) behind Jigsaw’s view on humanity just as he does the throats of any number of innocent bystanders. The traps remain solid, and the 3D I will not even comment upon, I just felt like this should have been more of a perfunctory instalment than a series finale. As a devout “Saw” fan, you should take this rating as a double-edged warning: fans of the series will be disappointed and those with no interest to begin with will wish they were part of the traps, and not merely watching them.” Rating: 5.5/10
Julian’s Rating: 1/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 4.3/10