Saw V – Blu-ray Review
By Frankie Dees Feb 4, 2009, 20:58 GMT
In the fifth installment of the SAW franchise, Hoffman is seemingly the last person alive to carry on the Jigsaw legacy. But when his secret is threatened, Hoffman must go on the hunt to eliminate all loose ends. ...more
The tagline on front of this 2-disc unrated director's cut Blu-ray reads 'You won't believe how it ends'. I'm thinking a more apt slogan would be 'You won't believe how it will never end'. It's a 'Saw' film ladies and gentleman, is a review even necessary?
And I don't even mean that question in a necessarily bad way. I think fans of the franchise have given up on a compelling narrative and solely look forward to what kind of sick and twisted torture devices will be incorporated into the next chapter. There is fascinating, scrupulous planning that goes into these segments with an end result enjoyment level that can't be denied for gorehounds.
The first 'Saw' film excluded, which was an indisputably distinctive low-budget experiment, the films have progressed in the usual splatter-film franchise manner - just enough plot and blood to keep the fans happy.
With 'Saw V', Jigsaw, God help us, still has pseudo-philosophical points to make (with Jigsaw actor Tobin Bell delegated to what amounts to a mere cameo) despite dying, what, three films back? And through a mass of convoluted plot points, still has his debatable methods carried out.
David Hackl, second-unit director of the last two and production designer since 'Saw II', takes the reins of the latest chapter and does his best to emulate director II through IV's Darren Lynn Bousman's rusty color palette and quick-cut editing (I realize Lion's Gate may not want to fix what ain't broke...yet...but a new style and look wouldn't be unwelcome for 'Saw VI') and quickly delves into what 'Saw' fans are clamoring for.
The best minutes of the whole film make up the opening with a 'Pit and the Pendulum' sequence that's as nasty, gory and tense as any of the best segments of the franchise.
From here, we settle back into the flashback structure that has powered the last few with detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) now carrying on Jigsaw's bloody business with Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) hot on the trail. I didn't feel strongly about either of these actors in 'Saw IV' and I care even less now. Not bringing a whole lot to the roles, it didn't help that I had trouble telling the two apart.
The film puts less focus on the five chump victims, the most unlikable bunch yet I might add, who stumble through booby-trapped rooms, where we mostly get flashbacks explaining Hoffman's intro and tie to Jigsaw (and providing some nice moments for Tobin Bell, the literal life and blood of this franchise).
The narrative pretzels of these films are quickly getting tiring and are steadily getting sillier but the do-or-die scenarios despite being a bit redundant themselves still provide some gruesome fun.
Having 'Saw IV' on Blu, I pretty much knew what to expect. With a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode framed at 1.78:1, this is a great-looking transfer and true to the dark, gritty source. Inherently dank and washed out, 'Saw V' will never be demo material as a result but looks bloody great when keeping that in mind. Providing a DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 7.1 track, this is one scream-filled, high-octane track.
Special Features start off with two commentaries, the first from director David Hackl and first AD Steve Webb and the second from the producers and executive producers. Both are worth a spot-check listen but will prove of little interest outside of die-hard 'Saw' fans.
Featurettes 'The Pendulum Trap', 'The Cube Trap', 'The Coffin Trap' and 'Slicing the Cube: Editing the Cube Trap' all give short looks at the various torture devices used in the film with 'Fatal Five' being a overview.
A Theatrical Trailer rounds things out along with Blu-ray/BD-Live exclusive 'MoLog', an interesting new feature that allows users to insert and shape graphics, text and audio into the film and then share with other 'MoLog' users - a sort of Facebook for Blu-Ray users.
As long as you don't come for a careful handling of narrative and thespian skills, you should find this to be an acceptable evening of mindless, bloody fun. Let's just hope with 'Saw VI', that we don't succumb to a flashback within a flashback within a flashback where Jigsaw hands over his do-or-die mantra to his...cat.