DVD Review: Saw The Final Chapter
Release Date: January 25, 2011
· Kevin Gruetert
· Tobin Bell
· Costas Mandylor
· Betsy Russell
· Cary Elwes
· Sean Patrick Flanery
· Chad Donella
· Official Site
· IMDb: Saw 3D
by Darren Goodhart
Published: February 25, 2011
When last we left off with "Saw VI," Detective Marc Hoffman had been discovered as the one continuing the deadly Jigsaw killings. John Kramer's wife, Jill Tuck was on her way fulfilling her husband's final wish and taking care of Hoffman, who in his role as Jigsaw (Kramer's successor) had been subverting the message that Jigsaw had originally intended with his deadly "games." Hoffman had been left in one of Jigsaw's reverse bear traps and managed to escape his final fate.
After two initial scenes, a short one that gives the promise to answer the series' longest standing question of "Whatever happened to Doctor Lawrence Gordon" and an extended scene with another Jigsaw killing about to take place in an all-too-public location, we pick right back up, immediately after the final events of "Saw VI." As with the other films in the series, this is a direct continuation, that answers some question and puts in some new elements while continuing its Grand Guignol thrill ride.
"Saw - The Final Chapter" ("Saw 3D" in theatres) is the supposed final film in the series and it does offer a final resolution, though it's also left itself a way to continue if the producers chose to continue. I love the series, I have since the start, and even though I'll miss it, I do hope this is the final chapter.
Many critics dismiss the series as "torture porn;" it's their way of telling us that they're above something they perceive as this tawdry. I certainly get it, but disagree with it. I'm guilty of it in my own way as well, just reacting in horror whenever I see a new "comedy" come around with a Seth Rogen, or Zack Galifianakis or Jack Black or a new "romantic comedy" with Katherine Heigl or Jennifer Aniston. So I do get it, and grudgingly accept it, but am quick to defend the Saw series whenever I can. What's been crafted here over the series of seven movies has been a highly intricate horror epic bathed in ridiculous violence. Sure the violence is ridiculous, but in my eyes, no more ridiculous in its own way than seeing a man fly in a comic book movie. This is a trapping that goes with the genre, it's just a matter of how it's used. The "Saw" series has always managed it well, though some fans will debate how well, between movies. But seen as a single piece, it's been remarkably consistent and always well-crafted.
Even though the series has had four directors over time, the visual style and methods of storytelling have remained uniform and the look has always been on point. The over-arcing story is as intricate as any of Jigsaw's deathtrap games. Charlie Clouser has provided strong and effective scores with each film, and you just wait for the signature theme to come into play when all of the pieces come together. On top of that, the series has never gone with any "star" actors, but those who have been part of it have been consistently strong and have willingly come back to play in this bloody sandbox.
The new wrinkle added this time is using a character who has falsely admitted to being a survivor of one of Jigsaw's deathtraps. He's now profiting from his lie and Jigsaw attempts to teach him a lesson. On its own, this would be another faction of the story, but because it's also intertwined with answering the question of what happened to Dr. Lawrence Gordon, it has a little more significance. The question of Gordon does get answered and while I doubt that it will be of any surprise to long-time fans of the series (it wasn't to me), it's still satisfying in that the final story does come full circle. There's not really any cheats here either, as Dr. Gordon has been mentioned in every film, so eventually it made sense that events would come back around to him. Hearing that this would be the final movie in advance, I was hoping to see actor Cary Elwes as part of the show again, and he is.
Elwes is here for a few brief scenes, and does a great job in those few scenes. Also returning are Tobin Bell as Kramer, Costas Mandylor as Hoffman and Betsy Russell as Jill Tuck. There's a few other familiar faces as well, either as background characters or some of the other Jigsaw survivors attending a seminar given by our newest character, Bobby Dagen, played by Sean Patrick Flanery. While no one will win any awards for this, it's all solid work, though I do want to call attention to one player, that being Tobin Bell. Bell's only here for a couple of brief moments but his presence is felt throughout the entire film. Bell's been kicking around out there forever in various character parts and it's been nice to see him get his due with this series. He plays the very best kind of villain, one that knows what he's doing is absolutely and uncompromisingly right. He has his own brand of charisma that's certainly made sense to the others that have followed him. As I said, his scenes are minimal here (though that's understandable, his character has been dead since "Saw 3"), but I wanted to give him special credit for what he's brought to the table.
For fans, I think it's a great capper and its final scene is absolutely terrific. For the uninitiated, you'll be hopelessly lost without seeing the other films, so unless you want to make that effort, don't bother.
Now when this was originally in theatres, it was in 3D (and I wasn't very thrilled by it). For home viewing, I'm looking at the standard edition (this is also available on Blu-ray) and the picture is very sharp and clean, no worries there. Sound quality is also very nicely done in Dolby Digital 5.1.
The special features are pretty slight for this package, though it does include two commentary tracks, and being a big fan of commentary tracks, I'm pleased to have them. The first track is a producer's commentary track, and it's really nicely done with all sorts of explanations of why things were done the way they were. The second commentary track is from the writers and this one is a lot of fun. They reveal what would've actually happened with this final chapter had "Saw VI" been a success. After hearing some of that track, it really made me wish that they'd done what their original plan was. That's no slight to their work as seen here, but still what this could've been would've been amazing.
Also included are a handful of deleted and extended scenes, a couple of which I wish had made the final cut. Two in particular would've added more to the Bobby Dagen character and to Dr. Lawrence Gordon's presence.
This also includes five music videos, which as far as I'm concerned are wasted space on the package. The bands performing them are all of the metal or hard rock variety and are not really my thing. Four of those videos features scenes from the "Saw 3D" trailer cut into them, while the fifth is its own thing. I suppose if you're a fan of this music, then it's a nice addition. I would've preferred to have seen Lionsgate spend a little money on a retrospective documentary instead. Seeing that this is supposed to be the final chapter, something like that would've been a nice little extra for the fans (or at least this fan).
As I said above, I'm a big fan of the series and I enjoyed this film. For "Saw" fans, I expect they'll run right out and get this to complete the story. For all others, unless you're willing to make the commitment to see the entire series, then this DVD will probably not be your cup of tea.