Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Saw VII: The Final Chapter In 3D (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

A flashback from the last movie plays, as we see the aforementioned envelope was indeed placed into Gordon's office. More flashbacks follow, showing Gordon becoming Jigsaw's disciple after surviving his test just like Amanda did. This all fits perfectly and fixes various plotholes such as “how the hell could a civil engineer perform such advanced surgery?!” that has been hovering around these movies since the second one.

What's REALLY fascinating about this reveal has nothing to do with the movie whatsoever. January 18th, 2009 YouTube user Toberoon uploaded a video called “Dr. Gordon is alive!” where he posited a theory that Gordon survived the events of the first movie and became Jigsaw's apprentice. One of his biggest pieces of evidence was the opening Billy tape from Saw II, which showed a cloaked “Jigsaw” limping towards Michael's unconscious body to implant a key in his eye. Remember in Saw II when I asked you to remember that? This is why.
Toberoon turned out to be 100% correct, as the movie even shows him doing the surgery on Michael. Keep in mind, this was uploaded before even Saw VI came out with its spoilery envelope scene, so this video is some kind of amazing. Many people have speculated the producers of Saw viewed this video, smacked themselves on the forehead, and changed their plans to copy it because it makes so much damn sense. Now I doubt this, as the limping man HAD to always have been intended to be Gordon but still... it does make one wonder.

All the movies are covered, including showing Gordon was the one who wrote Hoffman the letter saying he knows who he really is, a subplot I will admit to having completely forgotten about in all this. The final flashback shows Gordon playing the tape in his envelope, Jigsaw asking him to protect Jill. OOPS! You'd really think a man that could see the future like Jigsaw can would have had a better “out” for her planned than that.  Hoffman wakes up in the infamous bathroom with a chain around his ankle, because there's no other way this movie was going to end and you fucking well knew it. Hell, you even know exactly what happens next. Gordon, play us out of here if you would.

“Game over.”.

Slam the door shut and cue the credits.

This is how Saw, the franchise that kicked in the door and reinvented horror, ends. Not with a mighty roar, but with probably the weakest ending outside of the Matrix trilogy. In my last post, I talked about how Saw VI bombed in comparison to the rest of the movies but fared pretty well critically. Inspired by these positive reviews, audiences came back in droves and Saw VII was back to its "making more than ten times the budget" ways.

Joke was on us though, because this was WORSE than Saw V in every way, shape, and form. It couldn't even break a 10% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (it “earned” a 9%), which puts its firmly at the bottom of the barrel for the series. It's disappointing after how refreshingly good the previous movie was, but as I pointed out in the opening on this review it was to be expected because the deck was stacked against this before shooting even began.

Pretty much everything was wrong here, especially the deaths of Jill and Joyce. The acting was terrible across the board, and for the first time in the series we got a movie that LOOKED bad. I've talked about how the sets have always been dark and drab, but this could have easily been mistaken for a made for TV movie. I'm not going to place the blame all on Greutert's “I don't want to be here” shoulders, a lot of it is the fault of the executives who demanded this movie be in 3D.

I've reviewed a handful of movies on here that were shot for 3D, but have never once had to point out a scene that was bad because of the gimmick. By the way, this is one of the few compliments I'll ever give to Michael Bay because never once was it distracting in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.  Here though... oh boy. It was all horribly cheesy and embarrassing, serving as a guide book why you should never shoehorn 3D into a movie unless you have at least a $100 million dollar budget. An added effect of this was making the blood in this movie look insanely fake, because they had to lighten it up for the 3D effects to work. Every time an actor got busted open I kept wondering why they had Pepto Bismol running through their veins.

One of ideas for the sequels after John Kramer died was to turn Mark Hoffman into a deranged vigilante ala the Punisher who would go after targets like the Mafia, but this was denied because it wasn't “Saw” enough. This is funny because the entire franchise hasn't been “Saw” enough after the first one. I'm not sure I can think of a better example of “how not to follow up a hit movie” than these films, as in the end it was just one gigantic clusterfuck of bad decisions and outright “what the fuck were they thinking?!” nonsense.

As Dr. McCoy from the new Star Trek movies would say, Lionsgate bet on the wrong pony by picking Costas Mandylor to take the reigns of Jigsaw for the last four movies. Nothing against him because he's a good actor, he was just woefully miscast here. He LOOKED the part of a ruthless killer, and I sure as hell wouldn't mind seeing him in a slasher movie after his performance here, but totally lacked the cerebral presence Tobin Bell introduced to the series. Oh! And how about that? Tobin Bell, the heart and soul of Saw, was in this damn thing for like two minutes! How did they make a mistake that big? And, more importantly, who in the world thought it'd be a good idea to put him in a backwards baseball hat?!

Not much else to say about this one, or the other six movies. If you're big time into horror I can recommend them if you haven't seen them, even with the bad tipping the scales on the good. If you're not into horror movies, steer clear of these for the exact same reason I just listed above. Not that horror has lower standards per se, it's just a different mindset for expectations and whatnot. Horror, to me at least, is more about the elements in play than the actual story so it's a pretty damn big bonus that Saw gives the detailed story that it does.
It's been a nice little trip down memory lane, but one I have no desire to relive anytime soon. Watching all of these the past two weeks and especially having to endure III, V, and VII all in such a close time span has pretty much quenched my thirst for these movies for a LONG time.  Don't fret though, Lionsgate is apparently hard at work trying to craft a sequel or a reboot to this series because OF COURSE they are.  Still a week left til Halloween, I'm going to try to find some BETTER horror fare for the next review.

Wrapping things up, how did this series fare in the Ghoul Breakdown?

1.  Which Was The Best Movie?
Saw I, duh. Although since that ends up barely being a Saw movie since it has almost no connection to the rest of the series, I'm going with Saw VI. It's probably the best late series horror sequel ever made.

2.  Which Was The Worst Movie?
Saw V is atrocious, but sadly it can't even hold a candle to Saw VII.  Bloody hell, it was BAD bad.

3.  Which Movie Had The Best Hero?
Saw VI's William Easton, but like I said previously he's a protagonist and not a hero. Not only is he the only lead we got to know before he entered the game, he's also the only one to actually LEARN something during his trial.

4.  Which Movie Had The Worst Hero?
Saw III's Jeff Denlon, just a total asshole I couldn't wait to get killed off.

5.  Which Movie Had The Best Villain?
Kind of tricky since pretty much one guy is the main villain throughout the entire series, but I'm going with Jigsaw in Saw II. One of the rare times he was actually involved in everything, it's a thing a beauty to watch him masterfully play everyone in his human game of chess.

6.  Which Movie Had The Worst Villain?
Hoffman in Saw VII, no contest. In which all of the brilliant, well thought out mind games are abandoned for him to turn into Every Slasher Villain EVER.

7.  Which Movie Had The Best Love Interest?
Hahah, wrong series. Try again!

Bonus round! The only reason Saw has a fandom outside of horror movies junkies is it has a large, sprawling storyline full of interconnected characters linked by flashbacks BEFORE the TV show Lost made it cool. But even a story this big is bound to have some unresolved story lines, so let's see if the Final Chapter managed to tie up all its dangling threads!

-Saw I: Now this one is due to the fact this was meant to be a standalone movie, but Jigsaw ordered Zep to kill Gordon's family if the good doctor didn't kill Adam. This completely goes against his character in later films, but it really stands out due to the later movies. Although maybe not so much after we saw what happened to poor Joyce.

-Saw II: What happened to Daniel Matthews? I know it's not really important, but he is never mentioned again after being found in the safe.

-Saw III: Still no explanation for how Jigsaw knew about Danica witnessing Timothy Young's hit and run, even with the later reveal he had access to Hoffman's police resources.

-Saw III: How did Jigsaw know Hoffman wrote Amanda a letter, much less tell her to go read it?

-Saw IV: When we see Hoffman writing his threatening letter to Amanda, he places a key in there as well. The key is never shown again, so what the hell was the point of that?

-Saw IV: Gordon's reveal really complicates this movie's plot. Okay, so in the beginning Art Blank survives a trap. Now we see from a flashback that Gordon is the one who helped set up this trap, so Hoffman could have had NO role in it whatsoever. But then later on we find out Art is unknowingly working for Hoffman, so does this mean Art is the unluckiest son-of-a-bitch in history by getting tested by TWO different serial killers?

-Saw V: Brit and Mallick's storyline is never resolved to any kind of satisfactory conclusion. I get the whole thing was set up to ultimately frame Strahm as Jigsaw, but the movie did a terrible job at establishing any of this. We do briefly see Mallick at Dagen's support group in Saw VII, but never a word about what happened after their ordeal.

-Saw VI: How did Hoffman know Amanda was at the clinic the night Cecil accidentally killed Jill's unborn baby, even when Jigsaw himself didn't know this? This one bugs me to this day.

-Saw VI: Amanda's warning to Corbett Denlon was never followed up on. To be fair though, this one probably isn't a plothole since it wasn't even part of the theatrical cut.