I had to see this film quickly, Saw III (Filmstalker review) was in the cinema and I needed to go and see it fast and review it. So I was given a copy of Saw II to see ever so quickly (thanks Lee, I've seen it now so you can get it back), and I've now set myself a rule following this, always rewatch the previous film in a franchise before you go and see the next. In the case of Saw III it made it so much better and so much more accessible.
The other thing that happened was because I really had to watch it quickly I didn't think about it beforehand, I didn't wonder how the film could hold up to the last, I just leapt right into it. I think that was a positive for this film because if I'd seen Saw just before this film, or had much time to think about it, I'd probably have been much more disappointed than I was.
Jigsaw is back, and I'd love to say he's pissed off, but he's not. He's just very much in control.
The main plot arc is very good. You can see that the care and planning has been put into making this clever, intricate, unexpected, and turning perfectly around when all is revealed. However the rest of the scenarios aren't, and that's unfortunate because it's the traps, the surprises and those well conceived twists that are what makes the Saw films so good.
I really felt that all the stories within the house itself were very weak. There didn't seem to be any building up of the traps and how entwined with the people's lives they are, there's just a connection announced and a trap appears. Gone are the layers, subtlies and cleverness behind them and it becomes pretty average fare.
The characters seem to wander around aimlessly, not properly exploring the house, and not all of them discovering their personal traps.
The characters are never really explored or developed, and it's reduced to running through corridors from a madman with a big knife.
However don't take from this that the film is all bad, in fact the main plot arc most definitely is, and that's the place to watch, between Jigsaw and the police, all the rest is just filling time.
Before we start in the house and once we return from it is where the films strength lies, and if they had carried this throughout the film then you really could have had a better sequel on your hands.
Oh, and the ending is superb, especially if you've seen the previous Saw.
Presented: 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Well filmed, natural and strong colours, some nice effects achieved with lighting.Nicely filmed between the bright scenes in the house and the darkness of Jigsaw's lair and it holds a sharp picture.
Presented: Dolby Digital 5.1
There's nothing spectacular about the audio, but it does utilise the speakers to a good degree.
Presented: Audio Commentary with Donnie Wahlberg, Beverley Mitchell and Darren Lynn Bousman, Jigsaw's Game featurette, four Trap featurettes, Bits and Pieces featurette, Storyboard Comparisons, Easter Egg
The commentary is good, although it could have done with more from Wahlberg and Mitchell, or perhaps just Wahlberg and Bousman.
However it does provide a good insight into into the making of the film as well as some of the funnier moments onset. We also hear some interesting comments from Wahlberg about his scenes with Bell in the later part of the film. The director reveals a couple of great background connections between the house and the Jigsaw's lair, connections you'll have undoubtedly missed first time around.
There are some good behind the scenes footage which reveals a lot of the effects and there's particular focus on the traps themselves. The footage looks at what they are and how they work both in the film reality and actually onset.
Storyboard comparisons are worth watching for those of us who are interested in the process of getting the screenplay to the finished, post produced film.
In this section a few of the traps are revisited with the storyboard panel displaying next to the actual shot and they both change in sync. The effect is to see how the storyboard works in making the shot, and how close the two are on this film.
Despite the strong bookends of the main plot which are very well conceived and written for a few great surprises, the rest of the film doesn't hold up to the level of Saw, so the film falls short.