Sunday, March 27, 2011

SAW 3D (2010) - REVIEW

I've sat through a six movie marathon of Saw-proportions and lived to tell the tale. That's aproximatively 540 minutes of blood and guts. Now I am faced with the last in the series, the one they call 3D. In the hope of reviving the franchise's financial viability, after "Saw VI" could not hold on for more than two weeks in the box-office's top 10, the worst ever performance for a "Saw" movie, the studios decided it's time to go 3D. So, for the last time, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan returned as writers and Kevin Greutert was wrestled back into the director's chair. It's well known that Greutert was going to direct "Paranormal Activty 2", but was obligated by Lionsgate, through some contractual enforcing, to drop that and return to "Saw 3D". This last one was supposed to be two separate movies, but thankfully, they decided against it. The big revelation has arrived. Was it worth the wait ? NO !

As the franchise approaches its long awaited conclusion, we once gain pick up from where the last movie left off. Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), betrayed by Jigsaw's widow, barely escapes the new and improved reverse beartrap grossly disfigured and goes out for revenge. Fearing for her life, Jill (Betsy Russel) turns to the department of Internal Affairs for protection, promising she'll go on the record about everything regarding Jigsaw's crimes. Meanwhile Hoffman sets new games in motion. One of them, extremely gruesome, which took place in a garage, baffles the investigators because of its random nature. The other involves Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery) a man who claims to be a Jigsaw survivor. He has made a fortune by selling his story to the media and writing books, but in fact it was all a lie. Now he must play the real game in order to save his wife, his friends and his life.

Freedom is just barely out of reach.
When you go this far into a franchise, normally there should be a lot to talk about when it comes to the final chapter, but "Saw" is quite the exception. There isn't much worth talking about. Yes, it was smart to bring back previous Jigsaw survivors. Yes, it's great that they finally decided to reveal Dr. Gordon's fate. But they're used to little effect. Dr. Gordon gets very little screen time and his involvement in this movie is dissapointing. Instead, we get the same old tired characters that "Saw IV" introduced, plus some new ones that don't stand out in any way. I found it grossly over-the-top the way Hoffman becomes an unstoppable killing machine. And he's surprisingly resourceful. The fact that he's just a cop seems to indicate he's some kind of underachiever, right ? I mean, he should be working for NASA.

The plot is pretty bad shape too, commiting narrative suicide by the end of this flick. Absurdity is present at every turn, in every character motivation, in every twist and every trap. I completely gave up on keeping my eyes open for plot holes and just resigned to patiently waiting for this last piece of the absurd puzzle reach its conclusion. The storyline follows most of the patterns established in previous "Saw" installments, so there are basically no major surprises by the end. There are times, though, when it borders on self-parody. Normally that should be a bad thing, but here, it makes the whole thing a little more bareable.

Is it really that bad ? Honestly, it makes no difference if it is or not. Fans will eat it up. To me it was supremely dissapointing. What makes it worse is the fact that it's impossible to understand what's going on if you haven't watched every one of the previous movies, so that automaticaly shuts out newcomers. This isn't a movie, it's an "episode" and there is really no reason why such movies need to be released theatrically. They could just go straight-to-video and nobody would even notice.

"It's a bird, It's a plane..."
The traps are average at best, but still way too complicated, especially now that the apprentice count is down to one. Of course, there's usually a time gap between each movie, but still, there's a lot of effort put into these torture games. "Saw 3D" contains the highest number of traps, 11, and the highest bodycount, 27. There's a reason for that statistic : they have no more good ideas, so they just fill the movie with lots of killings, hoping to drag out the running time to feature length. The violence is there, tedious, over-the-top and pointless as usual. It's almost boring, because you know for a fact that nobody really escapes these traps, so you just patiently wait for the next gruesome mangling. I haven't seen it in 3D, but there are a few scenes where it's fairly obvious that some chunks of flesh were meant to fly towards me in 3D, so I think I've pretty much figured out how that works. Not much else seems to be very impressive in 3D. What really bothered me is how ugly the cinematography looks, probably because they shot it in 3D. Or, maybe because the series cinematographer, David A. Armstrong, was replaced. Or, maybe both.

The acting is really bad, and there's not a lot of Tobin Bell or Cary Elwes to salvage this wreck. In fact, Bell's participation is so small, it could easily be considered a cameo. There's also a cameo by Chester Bennington, Linkin Park's lead singer. Apparently, he even consulted with an acting coach for his 2-3 minutes of on-screen screaming. Maybe the rest of the cast should have done the same (Costas Mandylor, I'm looking at you).

Well, in the end it seems there were plenty of things to talk about. Just not very flattering for anyone involved in making the movie. They might be disappointed this ended in seven movies instead of eight, but personally, I would have put an end to this series after part III. Still, thank God it's over. Now the world can wait for the other long-running franchise to end. The Harry Potter movies.

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