Saw III [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (17th March 2007).
The Film

Lionsgate has hit a virtual goldmine with this franchise, the films aren't that expensive to produce (under $10 million), the fan base has grown after each installment and they've all been massive successes. "Saw III" alone raked in over $150 million box office world-wide so you can see the studio is anxious to keep the series alive and well with a fourth installment already announced. Personally I feel this is a bad idea, although this third installment wasn't quite as satisfying it did manage to wrap things up quite well and unless the filmmaker's have some tricks up their sleeves the only place I can see this series heading is in prequel territory,. This is a territory that seems seldom to work. Whatever decision the studio and filmmaker's make it better be a good one because the fans will be relentless in their disapproval if it takes a head first dive. Warning aside let's move on...
"Saw III" takes place directly after the second (funnily enough) with Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his apprentice Amanda (Shawnee Smith) have eluded capture and have disappeared. Jigsaw's health is in critical condition and he requires medical attention fast, but despite his deteriorating condition the games must go on. This time a victim named Jeff (Angus Macdafyen) and a doctor, Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) find themselves the unwilling pawns in their game and time is running out to figure out the puzzle and save Jigsaw's life.
Created in the same stead as the previous two installments "Saw III" saw very little development time, the small budget high-concept horror took just two weeks to for a shooting script to materialize and it shows. The third installment while entertaining is nowhere near as good as the first and doesn't quite live up to the second either. The problem with this installment is that it feels much more rushed than the previous and the film's continuous twist after twist ending (although a staple of the "Saw" series) was rather tedious and you wish they could have come up with a better way to reveal the ending. The ending itself is rather satisfying wrapping things up quite well.
Despites these minor disappointments "Saw III" gets it right where it counts, the traps, the gore and the level of suspense is brilliantly conceived. The complexity of the traps evolves after each film and the traps in this film will not disappoint. They are even more unique and violent, with the rib-cage trap being a personal favorite and the cross-rack another relatively painful looking device. If you're into gore this film steps it up a level, but keep in mind that this 'Unrated' version features some additional gore shots that were removed in order to get an "R" rating for theatrical release. In fact the film was toned down a total of 7 times in order to attain that rating.
The acting is fairly the same as previous installments, there's nothing totally spectacular about the performances other than the fact that Tobin Bell owns his character and after playing three times he's got it down to a science.
"Saw III" balances on the line between good and bad, I wish the filmmaker's took their time and didn't rush certain elements but the tight timeline given by the studio meant that the film had to be in theaters by Halloween 2006. Despite some downsides the film still maintains it's inventiveness with its traps and still manages to deliver on the suspense which is rare especially in a franchise's third outing.

Video

The film is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, this 1080p 24 fps high definition transfer was created using AVC MPEG-4 compression. In keeping with the film's gritty feel the transfer presents the film accurately with grain prominent throughout the print, the low lighting methods hold up well regardless with blacks being robust and bold. Shadow detail is at time limited but overall is consistently good. Detail is crisp in close-ups but is compromised in wider shots mainly due to the grainy nature of the film. Keep in mind that this was the photographic aesthetic of the film and that the transfer presents this accurately so there are no real defects in this print. Overall it's a fine effort that will directly involve you into the dark and seedy world of Jigsaw.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included on this release, an English DTS-HD Hi-Resolution 6.1 matrix track as well as an English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its DTS-HD track, my current home theater set up can decode DTS-ES tracks but not HD tracks however the HD tracks are backwards compatible. Despite the fact that I cannot listen to this track at its full capability it's still a vibrant dynamic track that will impress most fans. The dialogue is clean and distortion free, the surrounds are rather active and can be quite aggressive at times. The sound mix makes excellent use of the sound space enveloping the viewer and providing one with a appropriate sense of dread as you watch the film. As far as DTS tracks go this is an impressive effort and I look forward to the day when I can listen to it at its full capability.

Optional subtitles are also included in English and Spanish.

Extras

Lionsgate has included Three audio commentaries, 5 featurettes, 2 deleted scenes, the film's original theatrical trailer, teaser trailer and a bonus promo spot on this disc. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up we have a feature-length audio commentary with the film's director Darren Lynn Bousman, writer/executive producer Leigh Whannell, executive producer Peter Block and executive producer Jason Constantine. In this track the participants discuss the story structure and setting up a third film. They manage to continuously keep the track moving at a fast pace providing the listener with a plethora of information regarding the production, these topics range from censorship issues with the MPAA, designing the traps and shooting around the various locations and set, they also comment on the cast laying down a handful of praise for each member, writer Whannell talks about the storytelling techniques as they discuss the "Saw" brand of story misdirection among other things. Overall this is an excellent track that doesn't get boring, you'll learn quite a bit about the production and get a sense for how much fun it was making the film.

The second feature-length audio commentary is with producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg. This is a somewhat dry track compared to the previous as the two producers share they experiences in working on these "Saw" films, they comment on getting the cast and sorting out schedules to commenting on the overall film by taking us through the development process. There is some repetition of information in this track as it meanders along with the occasional small gaps of quiet.

Finally the third feature-length audio commentary is with director Darren Lynn Bousman, editor Kevin Greutert and director of photography David A. Armstrong. This track is in much the same vain and tone as the first, the participants enthusiastically talks about the technical challenges of this film from setting the mood, tone and feel for the film with its lighting and photography to the film's editing style as they comment on the pace of the film as well as the various tricks they used to misdirect the audience. More is commented on the MPAA issues with violence and they also comment on the sets, shooting transitions and other technical related issues.


Next is a featurette entitled "The Traps of Saw 3" which runs for 9 minutes 22 seconds. In this clip the filmmakers tell us about the new and unique traps created for the film as we are taken through the development process to design to creation and shooting them on the set. We get a look at the four main traps of the film, the rack, the freezer room, the classroom trap and the angel trap.

Following that is "The Props of Saw 3" a featurette which runs for 7 minutes 54 seconds, in this clip we are taken behind-the-scenes as the filmmakers show us the various props created for the film which include a new and improved Jigsaw puppet, the insert head for the brain surgery scene, the practical effects guys show us how they made Jigsaw's vomit and a look at the foam rubber rotting pigs that were made for the film.

"Darren's Diary: Anatomy of a Director" is the next featurette and runs for 9 minutes 21 seconds, this is a behind-the-scene look at the journey director Bousman from setting up the shots to blocking with actors to actually shooting the film over the course of production, this clip provides a brief look at the director's job on set as they film some key scenes from the film.

A reel of two deleted scenes is next and runs for 5 minutes 29 seconds, in the first scene Lynn is left on the own for a while and tries to escape from Jigsaw and Amanda, but Amanda catches her. The second scene is of Amanda meeting a guy in the foyer of an apartment building.

"Amanda: Evolution of a Killer" is a featurette that runs for 5 minutes 12 seconds, this clip interviews Shawnee Smith as she talks about originally being offered the part and turning it down, when the filmmakers convinced her to take the role she delved in totally. She comments on the similarities in personality between her and the character and also comments on the journey the character makes through the three film arc.

"The Writing of Saw 3" is a featurette which runs for 6 minutes 43 seconds, this looks at the short turnaround time for getting the script written, once they had a story the filmmakers all agreed upon the task of developing the character's relationships and is done as the director and writer work together through the process until a final shooting script is complete.

Also included is the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 1 minute 15 seconds and the film's teaser trailer which runs for 43 seconds.

Rounding out the extras is a "Lions Gate" Blu-ray promo spot.

Packaging

This disc is confirmed to be coded "Region A" although the packaging states the disc is "Region 1".
This disc is packaged in a standard Blu-ray case that is housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The Film: B- Video: A Audio: A+ Extras: A- Overall: A-

 


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