When the Saw series began way back in 2004, that first film was an indie breakout, the kind of movie that fans felt privileged to have seen and couldnt wait to tell their friends about. How much the series has changed since its underground status.
Each subsequent year has yielded another and another Saw sequel, and now -- with the release of Saw 3D -- the series sheds what little credibility it had left with film aficionados and embraces that most over-exposed and underwhelming trend towards the third dimension. While the 3-D effects are thrilling for a couple of very brief moments in the film, for the most part, it doesnt add much to the experience, except for the extra cost for admission.
As for the film itself, the seventh (and presumably final) chapter in Jigsaws bloody saga picks up precisely where last years Saw VI left off, with Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) -- heir apparent to Jigsaws twisted duty -- severely injured after having barely escaped a trap set by Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell), Jigsaws ex-wife whos been tasked with carrying out his final wishes. Elsewhere, a self-help guru (effectively played by Sean Patrick Flanery) must fight his way through a series of Jigsaws traps to pay penance for the dishonesty his teachings are based on.
The ensuing 90-minutes are your standard mishmash of outrageous plot twists and grisly deaths, but this entry in the Saw saga does provide enough excitement to keep hardcore fans intrigued all the way through, despite its obvious inferiority to the preceding film.
Saw 3D does provide some sense of closure, as the creative team behind the film has promised, and it does offer its share of gallows humor, in much the same style as Saw VI. The irony Jigsaw employs in his traps is absolutely delicious, and when a public relations mouthpiece has to literally keep quiet to stay alive, one cant help but acknowledge the tonque-in-cheek way the filmmakers approach this series.
The most talked-about aspect of the new film is the long-awaited return of Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes), the unfortunate man who had the displeasure of having to literally saw off his own foot at the end of the first film. Fans have been waiting patiently with every sequel to see how he fits into Jigsaws game, and now they finally get their answer. Elwes doesnt get a lot of screen time, but the little he does have to do is certainly essential to the overall scheme of the series. To say anything more about his appearance would certainly spoil the fun.
What Didnt Work
After Jill left Hoffman to die in the closing moments of Saw VI, fans could only speculate the kind of epic confrontation these two would have in the next film. However, their story line is poorly handled here, keeping them apart until the final moments, and when they finally do come face to face, the result is little more than another rehash of an all-too-familiar element of the series. The battle over Jigsaws legacy has been a major focus over the last few films. The fact that the momentum director Kevin Greutert built up in Saw VI slows down to a crawl is nothing short of a letdown.
Sure, Saw 3D looks and feels like just another Saw film, but thats the problem. Its not just another entry in the most popular horror series of the last decade. This is intended to be the grand finale, and other than the last few minutes, Saw 3D offers little innovation to the well-established formula that fans of the series have already seen -- in better films, no less -- six times already.
Game over has been the seriessignature final line since the first film, but in this case, one cant help but really hope that weve heard it for the last time. Because - - for the first time in the Saw series -- it truly feels like weve seen it all before. The fact that Bell only has a couple of scenes in this film is a testament to the lack of remaining story to tell.
Saw 3D isnt the worst in the series (that would be Saw V), but it truly feels like the filmmakers are starting to run out of ideas and this film is the result of their last remnants of creativity with regards to the infamous Jigsaw killer. Overall, its been a fun ride for the long-deceased, now-iconic horror icon. Now lets let him rest in peace.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
"Saw 3D stars Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Sean Patrick Flanery and Cary Elwes. It was written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan and was directed by Kevin Greutert.
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