Plot: What’s it about?
“Oh yes, there will be blood.”
There were very few bona fide “hits” in 2005, but “Saw II” was one of them. Fans of the original “Saw” will no doubt be enthralled with this sequel as it delivers more of the same. The movie was on a very small budget ($4 million) and grossed nearly $90 million at the US box office. Did somebody say that horror was dead? I don’t think so. The “Saw” movies aren’t really your typical movies, as they don’t really contain murder –rather unique forms of suicide; which, when you think about it, is odd. Director Darren Bousman directed and co-wrote the movie along with Leigh Whannell who wrote the original. The second has a different flavor, to be sure, but it seems to work. Evidently audiences agreed.
“Saw II” finds us with a completely new set of characters, save for a few who are returning from the first movie. The setup is similar, but not identical to the first. We’ve got a group of people trapped in a room who find out that they’re breathing a toxic nerve gas. Unless they find the antidote, they’ll be dead in two hours and the doors to the house will open up in three hours. You might say time is of the essence. It’s a diverse group of people who all have one thing in common (naturally I won’t say what that is), yet they don’t know what it is. The other plot surrounds police officer Eric Mathews (Donnie Whalberg), who has found and is interrogating Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). Mathews’ is attempting to find the whereabouts of his son and little does he know that he’s one of the people in the house. As time ticks by, the tension heats up and the people start, well, dying. I don’t want to divulge too much more, but suffice it to say those that enjoyed the first will find nothing wrong with “Saw II”.
Tobin Bell, who plays the role of Jigsaw, is actually given quite a bit of dialogue this go around (in “Saw” he was a body on the floor who got up and walked away at the end of the movie) and does a pretty good job with his character. According to the Internet Movie Database, a “Saw III” is in the works so we’ll most likely see Jigsaw and a whole new group of characters this Halloween. Ya think? I have to admit that I did like the original “Saw” better than the sequel, but something about human nature makes you want to watch movies like this. Why? I don’t know. No matter your feelings about the genre or the subject matter, “Saw II” is a good ride, filled with plenty of tension.
Video: How does it look?
Like the original, “Saw II” is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer that looks quite good. Most of the movie takes place inside and at night, so the transfer does a good job at holding up. I didn’t really notice anything wrong with the transfer to speak of, but it was kind of hard to tell as most of the scenes I had questions about were intentionally grainy. The movie uses several different visual styles, so it’s hard to really assign a “flesh tone” score to the transfer, but I had no real complaints when it came to the transfer. “Saw II” looks great.
Audio: How does it sound?
One thing that really surprised me was the audio. The included Dolby Digital EX mix is very robust and impressed me on more than one occasion. The LFE were used in nearly every scene and the surrounds were constantly active. The general ambiance of the movie seemed to have a “humming” that never really ceased. That’s not bad, mind you, it’s just that this movie is one that you’ll want to crank up and it’ll even enhance the viewing experience (you paid enough for those speakers – now’s the time to use ‘em)! Really I can’t offer any more other than to say this is one that’ll rock your system. Dialogue is clean and natural, with no signs of distortion. “Saw II” sounds better than it looks!
Supplements: What are the extras?
Just like last year, I’m sure they’ll be coming out with a more robust edition of “Saw II” once “Saw III” hits theaters on Halloween, but for the time being we do have a decent selection of extras. We start off with an audio commentary with Director/Writer Darren Bousman, and actors Donnie Whalberg and Beverly Mitchell. The trio offer up a fairly interesting track, and there were a surprising number of times in which there is silence – they just sit and watch the movie. Naturally they’re very content with the success of the movie. It’s a good track, but the movie is far more enjoyable. There are a couple of featurettes: “Bits and Pieces: The Props of ‘Saw II’” and “The Traps of ‘Saw II’” both of which are pretty interesting and focus on the set design and how the different sadistic traps were thought of and used in the film. There are some storyboards and an art gallery along with the theatrical trailer. Rounding out the supplements is “Jigsaw’s Game” and I’ll just leave that one to your imagination. “Saw II” looks and sounds great and was a highly successful film. Though I feel “Saw” was a bit more original, this one has its up-side as well. Recommended for a rental, though when the “Special Edition” comes out later this year, that’ll most likely be the one to pick up.