Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Movie Review #28: "Saw II" (2005)

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Movie"Saw II"
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Year: 2005
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is back, testing people who don't appreciate their lives. This time, he has a seemingly unrelated group of people held captive in a house rigged with a myriad of traps and games. He tells them if they come together and figure out their common link, they will survive, which seems easier said than done. Meanwhile, a cop named Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) has closed in on Jigsaw, eventually getting him in custody, but the game is just starting for Jigsaw. He informs Matthews that his son Daniel (Erik Knudsen) is one of the captors in the house, confirmed by the closed circuit cameras and monitors Jigsaw has showing the whole ordeal. If Eric wants to see his son alive again, he will, in a sense, have to play a game of his own, which Jigsaw claims starts with a simple private conversation.

It's extremely hard for any movie to live up to its predecessor if it is an amazing one, especially a horror film like the original "Saw." In addition to being rather terrifying, the first "Saw" film managed to make audiences actually think about their lives within the context of the film, and it also delivered a hefty bounty in the 'shocks' category. Though "Saw II" makes a good effort, it does fall way short. Just because a movie is not as good as it's excellent predecessor doesn't make it bad, not in the slightest, and "Saw II" is one of the better in the expanded series past the original one. Just like the first installment, there is still a pretty good mystery here with some twist and turns (though nothing as mind-blowing as the original), and this eventually leads up to a final ultimate reveal. The amount of gore is definitely upped in this sequel, and there are plenty more deaths, which will satiate those with a lust for bloody movies. Still in its infancy, the ways Jigsaw makes each person essentially choose their own death are still bitchin', with one minor exception for those with my specific phobia. One of the worst/best scenes involves a giant pit filled with uncapped syringes...and I absolutely hate needles. This scene alone makes me more than squeamish and there's not even that much blood involved in it in the first place. Some of the deaths are grisly and downright disgusting, while others are a bit more creative. Tobin Bell reprises his role as Jigsaw, though this isn't his self-appointed name, it's the one the media and police gave him. Bell's face is creepy enough on its own without his "character with cancer"-ous state. It's actually sort of sad to hear his story for the first time in full, and technically he is right when he says he has never murdered anyone, so does that exempt him? No, there's still the drugging and kidnapping of not exactly random people thing, I suppose. Here, we have another movie almost back-to-back with dollar store knockoff Donnie Wahlberg, playing, you guessed it, another cop who doesn't follow the rules, local or constitutional. He does a lot of muscle-flexing and squinty-eyed glancing, which makes me want to retract my earlier statement about how he was a prince. He is not a good actor, and since I know you're reading, Donnie, I would like to formally apologize for that statement. When an older, more washed-up Carey Elwes is a better actor than you, you know you're in trouble.

From here on out, the franchise takes a turn for the worst as far as grotesque and gruesome deaths and not a whole lot of thought go. Anything after the first installment can be classified as torture porn, where filmmakers see how far they can push the boundaries of an R rating where blood and macabre are concerned. "Saw II," Saw III" and "Saw IV" all follow the same interwoven story that we enjoy enough to watch every once in a while, though after the first few deaths each film, they sort of get tiresome. A decent sequel, but not as good as the original.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 36%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "A Nightmare on Elm Street"

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