Saw III – Blu-ray Review
ARCHIVE: Original Post Date – January 26th, 2007
Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen the series!
I’m not usually the guy to go to for opinions on horror films as I almost always stay away from them (not because I don’t like being scared but rather because horror films aren’t what they use to be anymore). So what about Saw III forced me to see this one? Well I found the first two films (particularly the second) enjoyable enough with a few true quality scares. And what many saying the third is the best in the series, I figured I’d enjoy this one quite a bit. Well the end result is rather positive.
Saw III sees us catch up with the Jigsaw Killer (played by Tobin Bell). Jigsaw wants another go around so he calls on his newest student named Amanda (Shawnee Smith) so she can capture Dr. Lynn Denion. Jigsaw’s plan is for Dr. Denion to keep his body alive despite it being near death. We meet Jeff (played by Angus MacFayden) who has been locked up in a freezer. Jeff and Dr. Denion must figure out a way to keep Jigsaw’s heart beating as he and Amanda put each through test after test. Don’t worry folks the film’s tagline of ‘Suffering? You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet’ is very true in this case.
What I enjoyed most in Saw III is that the film never thinks that the audience is completely retarded (like SO many recent horror films do). In fact, the film has a rather smart twist to it as it actually expects the audience to figure out what’s going on instead of throwing its characters into ridiculous situations. Sure some of the torture in the film gets a bit gruesome, but I did enjoy how the filmmakers carefully thought out each detail. Despite being shot on a rather low budget, the ingenious torture methods Jigsaw uses haven’t really been thought of before.
Comparing this to other horror genre films, I despise how horror films are continuously using rather boring advertising depicting someone bimbo getting lost and tortured until the hero can swing in and save the day. The Saw films would rather present situations that seem ludicrous on paper but are actually played well on the big screen. It should be no secret to anyone that Jigsaw survives at the end (as the opening box office for this film signaled a fourth film is on the way). I’m sure he’ll find a way to survive at the end of the fourth film. While it’s becoming a little odd that he continues to survive (is he a masochist or something?), the Saw films work on the levels they do not because they re-invent the genre of horror, but that the actual expect the audience to pay attention to every little detail rather than only paying attention to the blood and guts. While I don’t agree that the third film is the best, Saw III is still a fine sequel.
Presented in a 1080p, AVC MPEG-4 Encoded, 1:78:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio, I’ll be honest that I expected a bit more from the visual department of Saw III.
Grain, for some, may be an issue here as the print does have its share of grain. However, most of the grain felt natural as the grain never lead to other problems (like video noise). Detail was great with the blood looking oh so clear. Color usage seemed pumped up, but I suppose one can understand why the filmmakers were shooting for with this one. Obviously none of the blood is even remotely real. My biggest issue was that the negatives that the colors had lead to bigger issues like improper flesh-tones (everything looked over done to me) and a real lack of a clear 3-D image that a majority of HD material has. I haven’t seen the first two Saw films on Blu-Ray yet so I can’t say I have something to compare to. I will comment that if this is how the others look, HD fans will be disappointed but fans of the series won’t really mind. For myself , I felt a little disappointed.
Saw III has been given either a Dolby Digital EX 5.1 Surround Sound Audio Track or a DTS-HD 6.1 Master Audio Surround Mix. It becomes quite clear that the DTS track will be favored by most who can support the audio as every little effect sounded that much more horrifying.
Dialogue was clear and intelligible throughout never really becoming an issue. Dynamic Range was rather impressive considering the low budget of the film. Bass was deep and low adding that nice thump throughout the room. Surround usage was great as well with little effects (like the varying mechanical noises) filling the room with a creepy effect that certainly had me looking around (it also didn’t help that I watched this one late at night in the dark). Even though I was a bit disappointed on the video, the same can’t be said for the audio. Quite the fantastic job, Lionsgate.
- Audio Commentary with Director Darren Lynn Bousman, co-creator Leigh Whannell and Lionsgate executives Peter Block and Jason Constantine: Out of the available three (honestly why do companies do this?), this was easily the most informative commentary. All four participants speak on the production of the film basically detailing every little aspect giving us so much detail that any true Saw will be delighted. This one is definitely worth a listen for those who love this trilogy.
- Audio Commentary with Director Darren Lynn Bousman and cinematographer David A. Armstrong and editor Kevin Greutert: Sorry folks I just couldn’t get into this one at all. I’m the type who loves a lot of detail in commentary tracks and with the first commentary giving so much detail, new participants Armstrong and Greutert couldn’t really offer anything of substantial interest.
- Audio Commentary with Producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg: This final commentary literally felt like I was holding the film’s script in front of me and Koules and Burg were reading off the little details in a narration style. This commentary was way to serious and basically lacked any charm that the other two had. I like serious commentaries but not when it seems like there is no laughter or slight humor in the air.
- The Details of Death: This two part feature (The Traps and The Props) focused on the various torture devices used in the three films. For those of you with squeamish stomaches, this one may not be your cup of tea.
- Deleted Scenes: These deleted scenes, like most deleted scenes, were boring and really felt out of place. I personally disliked how Director Bousman and his Producers in their commentary tracks spoke of numerous cut sequences (some that sounded pretty damn interesting), but weren’t shown here! How frustrating.
- Amanda: Evolution of a Killer: This was a nice exclusive for fans of the series. Lionsgate has thrown together a brief (6 minute) tribute to the character (as well as the actor). I don’t want to speak too much on this as it may give away some details of the series. All I’ll say is that fans of the series will enjoy this one.
- The Writing of Saw III: Another short feature (5 minutes) features interviews and a few of the principal workers of the film. I enjoyed how screenwriter Leigh Whannel and co-creator James Wan dealt with the negatives of the typical horror story and actually created something damn near terrifying.
As a film, Saw III works simply because of the attention to detail during each sequence. As a Blu-Ray disc, Lionsgate has packed this one with extra’s, great audio and good video. Worth a pick up for fans and a rental for those in wondering what the series is all about. The only obvious note is that you may want to watch the first two before diving into the 3RD film.