Warnings: a lot of gore, a little plot, a lot of fanservice
Sweet Baby Jesus, I haven't updated this since February. And it's the lowest grade I've ever given a movie in years. Why, Saw 3D directors, why?! But let's get on with the review and you'll see why.
After surviving the trap Jill set up (in Saw VI) at the order of the late John Kramer, former detective Hoffman sets out to exact revenge and continue his life as the successor of Jigsaw. Meanwhile, a few survivors of Jigsaw's games band together to share their stories on television, led by a con artist author who pretends to have survived Jigsaw's tests.
The lady in the back saw something more interesting off-camera.
I am honestly having a hard time here trying to think of something good about it. I guess I'll talk about the fanservice, then, since it's a somewhat good thing: we finally find out what happened to Saw 1's infamous Dr. Lawrence Gordon. I've been around the IMDb Saw movies boards ever since the first one came out and this is the hottest topic that has ever been debated there. No matter the movie, people would argue about what has or will happen to this character and the most ludicrous of theories have flown all over the place. Well, Saw 3D put a temporary halt to that, since even after 7 movies we don't have a definite answer.
However, he makes his long-awaited appearance and fanboys and girls rejoice. But was this really a smart move? No doubt, most "Gordonites" were happy to see Cary Elwes reprise his role, but the timing was quite off and everything felt forced. If they wanted a big reveal, they should either have done it sooner or not done it at all. In this aspect, Saw 3D's script feels like a fanfiction and a ploy to satisfy the screaming masses. Unfortunately, this backfired when even the Gordonites complained about the overall quality. I now understand why Cary Elwes wanted to stay the hell away from these films, this one is sure to be a career-killer.
Jill wants to give Hoffman a piece of her mind.
Yes, we're finally here! I could include just about everything about this movie in this section, seeing as it was made solely to bring some sort of closure to the people asking for Dr. Gordon's return. And, of course, to milk this franchise for all its worth, even if it means utterly killing it.
First of all, since it's a Saw movie, I expected lots of gore; each installment became increasingly gorier as time went by. The traps became more elaborate and (in some more recent cases) overdone. Then we have Saw 3D. The gore is definitely there, but its quality has gone down dramatically. We have pink blood*, obvious prosthethic skin and badly-rendered CG organs flying at the screen whenever an unimportant character kicks the bucket (unfortunately, I'm not joking). It's as if the new directors and writers tried to up the body count to incredible levels - for the most part, they managed to do that, but they lost the Saw spirit in the process.
While some watch Saw for the camp and gore, most fans stick to it because of the plot and clever twists; these are what kept them coming back year after year. One of the many reasons Saw 3D was a disappointment to me was the lack of a coherent plot and solid writing. The characters' actions are nonsensical (one of them "hides" by standing unarmed in plain sight when there are lots of hiding spots and defensive weapons available) and the characters themselves feel like cardboard cutouts.
Furthermore, for the most part, the acting is bad. The only one I could stand to watch without cringing - and that the writers somehow manged to get right - was Tobin Bell's John Kramer/Jigsaw character. They pretty much kept the original feel of mystery he had, albeit adding a few embarrassing one-liners. The other main actors did good with what they had, but I imagine it was embarrassing for them when they were told to "just have fun with it" as opposed to acting seriously.
Is that cotton candy syrup I smell?
Secondly, the pacing is off. Terribly off. It's not necessarily boring, but it makes the movie seem unfinished, like it would need a few more touchups before being released. The scenes follow one another without any smooth transition, as if they filmed them and then simply stuck them together without bothering to check the flow. Some of the scenes can be made shorter without any real damage, while others can stand some lengthening. Let's take the traps, for example: in previous Saw movies, a 60-second trap would be extended to at least 2 minutes of a clever angle-switching montage; here, the montages are actually shorter than the trap timers themselves, which really brings down the tension since we don't "get to know" the characters as well as before - and let's face it, when all a character does is stand in place and scream, it's difficult to empathize with them.
Thirdly, while (most of) the other pre-Saw 3D traps reflected John Kramer's twisted view of right and wrong and the morals he wanted to teach his victims, the traps of this movie felt pointless. I didn't care about who was in them and the filmmakers obviously made no effort to make me. Two guys who were cheated on by the same girl? Oh, how intriguing. In other Saw movies we had accountants indirectly commit murder by approving the tearing down of buildings inhabited by homeless people.
This point can be argued by saying that Jigsaw's not in charge anymore, but was it really such a good idea to keep making these movies where a new villain strays so much from the basic idea? Sounds to me like this should have been given its own spinoff, rather than stretching this series way past its expiration date.
The sad part is that this is not even so-bad-it's-good material. I couldn't laugh or make a witty comment once, and I usually have a blast when watching horror movies with others.
* This is because of the conversion to the 3D format, where the image becomes brighter.
When did the traps become so...flashy?
The Plain WTF (spoilers about the intro)
Remember me mentioning the Saw spirit? All my hopes of seeing it again were killed after a few seconds of the intro. This time, the Obligatory Introductory Trap (TM) is a public one, with a few hundred witnesses. In the first movies we had these underlying feelings of claustrophobia, of being alone in the world save for the other individuals in the traps (if any) and the mastermind behind everything. Here, it just felt like a (badly done) parody of a public execution; the "charm" of hopelessness and despair was gone, and the shoddy social commentary (people gawking or using their mobile phones to film instead of helping the victims) felt cheap and shoved in there to make things seem serious (oh, our decaying society!).
Hoffman: You wanna know the only thing that's wrong with killing you, Jill? I can only do it once.
Dr. Gordon: I'm sure I speak for everyone here when I say how grateful we are to be a part of your... "promotional... DVD."
Gibson: [talking to Jill] It's a safe house Jill! Safe. House.
[Walks out of the room]
Secretary: We just got this. Hoffman knows she's here.
Gibson: Damn it!
(I admit I laughed out loud at the line above; I don't know if the humor's intentional, but the fact that the guy repeated a word from every. Single. Line he said was cringe-worthy, to say the least.)
Of course I'm legit, can't you see how emotionally scarred I am by all this?!
Verdict and recommendations
I really don't know who to recommend this to. Saw fans will most probably be disappointed by it and newcomers won't understand anything from it (since it's the 7th installment in a series which has a lot under its belt). Overall, I think you could find this enjoyable only when drunk. Very drunk.
Originality + creativity: 1 point (it's the base of the franchise, after all)
Actors: 1 point
Soundtrack: 0.5 points (nothing stood out)
Special effects/Natural flow: 0 points
How much I enjoyed it: 0.5 points
My rating: (3 out of 10)
Saw 3D (2010) on IMDb.com