DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Saw II - Unrated

Michael Osadciw

Screenwriter
Joined
Jun 24, 2003
Messages
1,395
Real Name
Michael Osadciw


SAW II
UNRATED


Distributed by: Maple Pictures
Film Year: 2005
Film Length: 95 minutes
Genre: Horror/Thriller

DVD Aspect Ratio:

1.78:1

Colour/B&W: Colour

Audio:
English DTS-ES 6.1 Surround

English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX Surround

Spanish 2.0 mono

French 2.0 surround

Subtitles: French, Spanish
Film Rating: UNRATED







Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW.



Rating:
/


Starring: Donnie Wahlberg (Eric Matthews), Tobin Bell (Jigsaw), Shawnee Smith (Amanda), Dina Meyer (Kerry)

Written by: Leigh Whannell & Darren Lynn Bousman
Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman



We dare you again…


The release of Saw in 2004 sent waves through the horror film genre in a sense that it’s been somewhat revived. I think Saw proved that mainstream horror isn’t dead and there is still an interest in it providing the film is actually worthwhile. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case for a long time. Instead, most of us horror fans seem to reminisce on the great days of horror that ran rampant in the 1980s. We are left with classics that will never be forgotten and many that probably should be forgotten.

Things haven’t changed much in the 21st century although it seems now that good horror films are far and few between. The days of scares and gore in the theatres are almost long gone. For visual effects, the highly effective use of clunky latex and dummies are replaced with modern computer technology – the less effective CGI.

It’s also known that many horror films are weak in story. We are all guilty of course in taking pleasure in horribly written so-called horror classics, but are we tired of that now today or have we just become more selective with our entertainment?

I think Saw rang a nasty tune in many viewers that reminded them that a good horror flick can still be made. To the surprise of many it was successful most likely because it’s a story that involves the viewer much more than he or she even knows it. It’s much more real. Questions such as What would I do if I were in that situation? What if this happened to me? are pondered. God knows with what we hear on the news these days it seems highly likely that a situation like this could happen to someone.

Saw 2 takes the plot further. It inches the movie along and beyond the maddening games of the killer the media has named “Jigsaw.” It’ll screw with your head more. It’ll make you squirm more. It’ll make you think What sick bastard would even think up things like this?!?! The answer is easy if you put your mind to it…I think we’re all capable of thinking up horrific ways to torture someone without even trying.

By the end of Saw II you’ll beg for a third film…and you’ll have your wish because it’s in the theatres as of this writing.

Saw II is presented in an unrated version that is a few minutes longer than the theatrical version. I can’t say I know for sure what’s changed so you’ll have to keep a sharp eye for those clues. The keepcase is packaged in a slipcase with what I like to think is an “interlaced video” cover.


VIDEO QUALITY
/


The video on Saw II stands out as one of the stranger looking DVDs I’ve seen in a while. At first I thought the picture didn’t look right at all and that look didn’t change at all throughout the film. But now, after finding about its intended look I know it was intentional.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Or in other words, what’s right about it but yet making it feel so dirty? Perhaps the intention was to use the blown out greens, browns and yellows as a sickly disguise for the film’s crudeness. It fits the mood, that’s for sure and keeps consistency with the torture room of the first film. Grain is pulled out making the feeling even dirtier than the film itself. All of this was changed on the digital intermediate as explained by the cinematographer of this film.

Artistic decisions aside, the resolution of the film feels reduced. All of this tinker is probably part of it but there are many shots that are blurry and are probably due to the original cinematography. I can’t think why else it would be so blurry. One moment stands out clearly to me: it’s the first scene we see of Jigsaw sitting in his wheelchair behind his table…the camera slowly zooms in…but we can see very little detail if any. His face, from a distance, looks like mush.

The theatrical ratio of this film was 1.85:1. This DVD has been reframed to 1.78:1.


AUDIO QUALITY
/


The audio experience is on an entirely different level when comparing it to the video. By that I mean it’s very effective when trying to send chills up your spine or send needles in your body. All of the splats, squishes, guts, distortions, echoes, metal scraping come alive in 6.1 surround. The disc is encoded in DTS-ES 6.1 discrete and Dolby Digital 5.1 EX. The DTS-ES version is preferred not really because it sounds better in terms of resolution, but because the rear separation is more apparent in the center surround. The back soundstage isn’t quite as wide with Dolby’s matrix 5.1 EX.

The soundtrack is dynamic and fun. It can get loud. It’s fairly good at sounding balanced in all frequencies with a little more punch in bass. The LFE is used frequently but the film’s bass doesn’t rely solely on it. Those with full-range towers will appreciate the extended response in each channel.


TACTILE FUN!!
/

TRANSDUCER ON
/OFF?: ON

As I mentioned, the LFE is used frequently in this film. Using a tactile transducer helps a lot in giving the extra ooommmph in the scenes that need it. It makes it creepier. It makes it scarier! It makes it more horrific! (really, it does!)


SPECIAL FEATURES
/


Disc 1 includes a commentary by director Darren Lynn Bousman, production designer David Hackl, and editor Kevin Greutert as well as a second commentary by writer/executive producer Leigh Whannell and executive producer James Wan. From what I listened to, both are excellent at diving into the details on the making of this film.

The second disc is loaded with special features with mixed up aspect ratios. Some are widescreen enhanced, some are 4:3, some are non-anamorphic widescreen…hopefully when this disc is translated to Blu-ray next year we’ll see a consistent 16:9 ratio with 4:3 material pillarboxed.

The interesting part of this disc is the layout of the special features. You can chose to view these in 2 ways; #1 being the most interesting way which is by playing the game throughout the house. Look for clues to find the features. It’s really cool and I had fun with it. But if you get tired of it, your #2 option is to access the traditional menu.

The disc’s biggest feature is a making of that runs a good 50 minutes. Here is what you’ll find as a play all or independent selection:

The Saw Phenomenon - discusses about the success of the first film.

Conceiving a Sequel - how a second film would be made

The Players (14.26) – about the director including cast members & producer. It’s in depth and mixed with quick to-the-point film clips to support statements made.

The Sets (13.44) – with the use of video cameras we are taken on a tour of the sets by the production department. How they are dressed and made dirty is a focus.

Cinematography (5.19) – about shooting, lighting, and changes made to the digital intermediate. This is hosted by the film’s cinematographer.

Sound Design (5.00) – shows how foley effects are made as well as the result of taking 300 tracks down to a six-channel discrete soundtrack.

Fun on the Set (3.57) – funnies on the set messing around with guts, etc. Some parts of this have been in the other features above.

Less amusing is The Scott Tibbs Documentary. I’m not sure what the point of this is…all I know is this guy is in a rock band or is trying to look like he’s in one. This 16-minute bore tries to show what happens when Scott Tibbs does some investigation of his own of Jigsaw. I think the ending is appropriate.

Also included is a quick 4-minute Story Behind the Story with the producer and the writer talking about the influences behind Saw.

Lastly, you’ll get to see a Gregg Hoffman in Memoriam of the producer, who died just in December 2005. Director Darren Lynn Bousman has also included his student film Zombie on this DVD (2.15).

For fun you can also play a game Jigsaw has for you. Listen to the clues, look around at the artefacts in the room with your remote control and select what you think is the correct clue. I you are incorrect there is no second chance – you’re dead! I had fun playing this but never got a single clue. Oops!


IN THE END...

Saw II is a cool movie that built on the success of the first film. I’m interested in seeing the third when I have some free time. But for now, I’ll let what I’ve just seen on this disc sink into my brain…Recommended.

Mike Osadciw
November 12, 2006.
 

ChadMcCallum

Second Unit
Joined
Sep 8, 2002
Messages
438
Nice review.

I watched the extras on disc 2 the other night and I was disappointed.

The interviews all seemed like they were filmed for a fluffy EPK and I got tired of seeing the same footage of the cute blonde talking about how the big guy is really a teddy bear.

The Scott Tibbs Documentary was an awful waste of time with terrible acting and overuse of the f word and the ending wasn't really satisfying. I wanted to see "it" happen. It reminds of the equally lame "Andy's Tape" on the Dawn of the Dead remake. Darren Lynn Bousman's student film was also pretty pointless, though it did show some of the stylish tricks he used later in Saw II. The bit about the letter from the "real" Jigsaw also seemed fake but who knows.

I guess my biggest complaint is the lack of depth in the extra's. I wanted to see more with Tobin Bell talking about Jigsaw, the reaction to the Saw franchise and his own personal opinions on the character, perhaps talking about what he believes Jigsaw was like before he was diagnosed with cancer. The same goes for Shawnee Smith and her character. A more indepth look at how the traps functioned would have been nice too. This is the second time the movie has been released this year and they could have put a little more effort into it.

On the other hand I liked the menus but I found some of the items were really tiny and thus hard to see what it is you were selecting. I'm glad they had a normal menu too and didn't go the route of the Memento LE disc. The cover was also neat too. In the end its the movie that matters and Saw II was fantastic. I liked the original but this really took the idea to new levels. Hopefully the Saw III dvd is an improvement, extra's wise and I pray that the uncut edition is released the same day as the rated one. I don't want to have to wait until October to own it.
 

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