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SAW II
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman

Starring:
Donnie Wahlberg
Shawnee Smith
Tobin Bell

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
After the discovery of the brutal murder of an informant, Detective Eric Mathews (Donnie Wahlberg) suspects the Jigsaw killer is back for more fun and games. This time the players include Mathews teenage son Daniel (Erik Knudsen) and a repeat player; the former druggie Amanda (Shawnee Smith). Yes… There will be blood.
Is it good movie?
I was pleasantly surprised with this sequel. I am not a huge fan of the original for many reasons. I dug the idea and much of the execution but what really turned it sour was Cary Elwes. Usually I like the guy but I couldn’t wait for that character to die. But with Saw II I was completely on board. I mean seriously; who knew Donnie “New Kid” Wahlberg could come up with this? I really grooved on him and his failed relationship with the world around him. He made the perfect anti-hero. And we get a taste of it early on when we witness a brief but necessary moment with his son. This is a man who truly takes life for granted, a perfect candidate for the likes of Mr. Saw. And this time around we get a better glimpse into the mind of the judge himself. Tobin Bell underplays it to perfection. Although as with the original, you wonder how he has the strength to carry on his deeds, even with his recruits. But this film really shines when Wahlberg and Bell begin playing Jigsaw’s game. These two played off each other in fine form and that is really what made this flick rock and roll.

Is that all there is? Hell no. When Detective Mathews finds that his son Daniel is trapped in Jigsaw’s game with seven others, you actually care about most of them and that raises the stakes big time. They are flawed, miserable souls who you shouldn’t give a rat’s ass about yet for some reason, you do. Although on the down side, a few of the seven strangers came up more like fodder than flesh and blood characters but this was a minor complaint. There were really only of couple of these folks that I felt had to be there just for the sake of moving the story along. Lucky for us we do get involved with most of them because when the blood flowed, I definitely felt like cringing more than cheering. And on a visceral level, Darren Lynn Bousman has a good eye and a strong sense of what made the original work. Yet it expanded on the original premise with more of everything. This looked like the work of a madman and that is a good thing.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen 1.78:1

Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX
The Extras
Not bad guys. We get some sweet extras with this DVD, especially considering this is a single disc. But I’m happy to report that it is well worth cost.

First up we get the Commentary with Darren Lynn Bousman, Donnie Wahlberg and Beverly Mitchell who plays Linda. I usually like it when we get separate actor and director commentary but that is just me being greedy. The players are very energetic and fun to listen to. Beverly is not only pretty but she also seems to have mucho charisma as does Mr. Wahlberg. Obviously we get a little more technical insight from Darren. He comes across as somebody who really loved making this flick. Good stuff.

Original Theatrical Trailer (:47) Come on… this was more like a teaser. Oh well.

The Featurette’s include:

Jigsaw’s Game (2:56) Too short, more like a commercial. Could have been much better.

The Traps of Jigsaw - This was easily my favorite feature next to the commentary. We get a mostly in depth look at the major “traps” set by Jigsaw. Including "The Head Trap" (4:22) where we get to see the making of the venus fly trap and the rehearsal of what actually did snap shut. Lucky for the actor wearing it, the nails weren’t real. Then came "The Needle Pit" (8:36) which was my favorite of these features. All the work went that went into this particular sequence was astounding. And Shawnee Smith looks cute even when covered in needles. Next up was "The Hand Trap" (2:51) and "The Furnace" (4:02) interesting, but not quite as interesting to me as the first two; still worth a look though.

Bits and Pieces: The Props of Jigsaw (4:33) Basic look at the props used in the film. This was pretty good albeit short. I think they could have had more fun with this one. But maybe that’s just me.

Storyboard to Screen - This was a great example of why storyboarding can be a great thing. With two televisions, they show one scene via storyboard and the other as the finished project. Very close folks; they knew what they wanted going in which, for a fairly low-budget film can save you time and money. This feature includes "Death Mask" (3:39), "The Furnace" (3:39), "Needle in a Haystack" (2:43) and "Jigsaws Lair" (1:45). Good stuff here

Conceptual Art Gallery - A gallery of many of the drawings used as storyboards, I was satisfied with the Storyboard to Screen section. This one didn’t do it for me.

A Memoriam for Gregg Hoffman - This is a letter from Darren Lynn Bousman regarding the tragic loss of Producer Gregg Hoffman which was a clever dedication. Nice touch.

And finally a handful of trailers, including: "SAW Uncut Edition", "Three… Extremes", "Audition", "Marvel Ultimate Avengers" (huh?) and finally "Tamara"
Last Call
In the end I really dug this sequel more than the original. Albeit the first one had the upper hand when it came to originality but let’s just say Cary Elwes should be crying when he sees what Donnie Wahlberg did here. Good show man. And speaking of acting we really get to see Tobin Bell as Jigsaw here and the man was terrific. With those two actors playing Silence of the Lambs you really can’t lose. Top that off with a great visual style and some fun kills and have yourself a bloody good time. Game over.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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