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Jigsaw (2017) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


JigsawIf it’s Halloween, then it must be Saw. That was the slogan for one of the most successful horror franchises that began in 2004. It would go on to last seven films in seven years back to back. Then in 2010 the franchise would say its goodbye with ‘Saw 3D‘ (aka Saw: The Final Chapter) as the makers began losing ideas and the rise of another popular franchise was at hand. But seven years later we see ourselves facing the return of one of the most prolific horror icons in some time with ‘Jigsaw‘ as the Spierig Brothers helm the project.

It’s been 10 years since the death of John Kramer and bodies are beginning to show up with evidence pointing to Jigsaw himself. As Detective Holleran investigates the crime scenes a deadly game has begun as five victims must fight their way to freedom. Is it possible that the Jigsaw killer has arisen from the grave? Or is the possibility of a follower hoping to resurrect a legacy of carnage.

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As an avid fan of the original Saw film the series would go on to make six sequels thereafter. Up until ‘Saw III‘ you could justify or argue if the series should have ended with the death of John Kramer. However, the series continued and Costas Mandylor (Detective Hoffman), would carry the franchise all the way till the end. I enjoyed all the Saw films and what made the series so special was the fact that it tried to be different from all the other horror franchises in existence. With a complex story arc and returning characters there was a consistency with the series. And it must be said the composer for all the movies, Charlie Clouser, did an amazing job in utilizing alternative themes within each entry.

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With the announcement of Lionsgate returning to the Saw series in 2016 there were mixed feelings and were more negative than positive. All I asked myself was why? Obviously it’s a cash grab for the studio but as a fan of the series there wasn’t really any more story left to tell after ‘Saw 3D‘. It may have been the worst entry in the franchise but the twist ending provided a somewhat satisfying closure. By returning seven years later the movie would have to be a game changer and with a purpose. Unfortunately, all of my worst fears came true and even left me in anger after the movie had ended.

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The movie has the feel of a Saw film. The differences are mostly aesthetic and this time we escape from the dark and dingy hallways to more of the outside. Sort of like what we had seen in ‘Saw 3D‘ but more so. Now let’s get to the traps. They are no different this time around and can even be described as being less convoluted. I would actually say there weren’t any stand out traps. And finally the story element. We get to see a lot of the investigation aspect with the detectives; including Holleran. There comes a point when paranoia begins to build up and fingers being pointed in different directions as possible accomplices. And of course the almighty question that gets brought up and looms over the entire movie is if John Kramer has actually come back from the grave.

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We now get to the ending and the twist of the movie. As with all Saw films there’s an element of surprise as typically a montage would follow. But the twist in ‘Jigsaw‘ is but a summation of why this movie shouldn’t have taken place. It’s no different from any of the previous movies although it does add backstory to Jigsaw. Yet the revelation falls flat and feels like a desperation move by the studio to continue the franchise. To the general audience who may not have seen any of the Saw films going back 13 years the reaction may be different. As a reboot it may bode well with the newer audiences. But for the loyal fans of the series it may generate a negative reaction and maybe to the point of infuriating.

For the acting, I didn’t mind most of the detectives. As for the five victims who awaken in a barn they start off strong but then eventually fall into cliched hollow characters that when they die you have no feel for them. Tobin Bell, a.k.a Jigsaw, was good although his screen time wasn’t all that memorable but it was nice to see him reprise his role once again as the iconic villain. As a return to the franchise the movie was a total let down and completely unnecessary. Depending on whether the movie does well at the box-office I fear that more sequels may be in the works. Ultimately, ‘Jigsaw‘ should’ve stayed buried.

Rating: 5/10

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What do you think of ‘Jigsaw‘? Do you plan on watching the movie? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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Saw II (2005) Review

MV5BOTRjMDNmNjctNjg4ZC00N2ZkLThkMzMtOWRmYTFhMzA1ZDZlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTIzOTk5ODM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Jigsaw is back and this time a new game is being played in the sequel to its predecessor. As Detective Matthews discovers the body of a close friend/informant he is thrust into a game of survival. And this time his patience is tested as his son, Daniel, is trapped. Can Eric Matthews find his son in time before it’s too late? Or does Jigsaw have something up his sleeve that turns the game upside down?

The director this time around and who would go on to direct the next two sequels is Darren Lynn Bousman. Being a first time director may not have been the only challenge going into ‘Saw II‘, but moreso asking how do we follow-up to such a smart and visceral original idea. Focus this time around was putting the villain out there on center stage. Actor Tobin Bell returns to play John Kramer (a.k.a Jigsaw) who now has the opportunity to show who he really is about versus lying on the floor for an entire first film.

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What I really enjoyed about ‘Saw II‘ was not only how we’re watching the chaos unfold but rather seeing through the eyes of Jigsaw himself. Instead of Jigsaw being this escapable superhuman character we get a deep and telling account of a terminally ill individual whose agenda is to help heal the wounds of the lost through unorthodox methods. Taking into account the things we take for granted in life and those who we hurt in the process all plays into how John Kramer spends his limited time left before his eventual demise.

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This time around our main player in the game is Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Eric Matthews and his involvement in the police force. His relationship with his son Daniel is shaken to its core and Jigsaw takes note of it. By capturing his son, Eric must play a game with John Kramer in order to see his son again. The game itself is centered around Eric’s weakness and his unwillingness to listen. With time ticking away you watch Eric Matthews get more and more desperate and thus falls into his old habits that has got him into this situation in the first place. Very few movies had the courage to bring the villain out into the open. Give credit where credit is due  however as Darren Lynn Bousman steered the carnage and suspense through the lens.

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There are two separate events happening at the same time and we shift between the two story arcs in intricate fashion. One in the which we’ve already spoken about in Jigsaw and Eric Matthews but the other is centered around eight individuals who awaken in a room where they have limited time to locate serums before a deadly toxin poisons them. Included in the group is Daniel Matthews, son of Eric, as he becomes the link to everyone in the group as to why they’ve assembled there. The group dynamic is interesting because everyone is in the same situation yet everyone seems to turn on each other.

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Now it’s time to discuss the traps in the film because after the original movie audiences remembered the inventiveness of some of the obstacles characters found themselves in. This time around the traps are more intricate yet relatively simple as compared to the reverse bear trap as seen with Shawnee Smith who played Amanda. Probably the most memorable trap that made everyone squirmish was the needle pit. When Amanda was thrown in against her will and fell onto the needles it just brought a reaction by audiences that would terrify them if they ever saw a needle again. Other mentionable traps included a furnace where only the devil could help you out and a box in which a certain person puts their arms through it leads to a miserable time.

The sequel not only solidifies the traps in the franchise but also the twists as well. In ‘Saw II’ we get a twist that not only sets up for the sequel but also gives a revelation on what Jigsaw’s master plan is. Not only is the sequel a great one but it sets the mark that Saw is a legitimate franchise with a memorable character in Jigsaw who has more story to tell. Tobin Bell plays a character  who is eerie yet resonates with audiences as it relates to how society treats the terminally ill. Composed as a fictional character he resonates on many levels as future installments will explore. If you thought the sequel was terrifying just wait till we talk about ‘Saw III’ as it will open the world of Jigsaw to a whole other level.

Rating: 7/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Saw II‘? How does it compare to the original and was this the jumping point for the Jigsaw character? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Saw (2004) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


MV5BMjE4MDYzNDE1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDY2OTYwNA@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_From the creator who has brought us the Conjuring and Insidious franchises began his career with a little gem that put Lionsgate on the map. Both James Wan and Leigh Whannell came together in introducing a new thriller that involves a killer who puts his victims in unimaginable situations of life and death. The difference this time around is that the victims are guilty of taking life for granted and are put in traps that revolve around their own personal sins. Not your usual psycho killer scenario but near the philosophical prowess of Anthony Hopkin’s Hannibal Lecter. So let’s jump right into it and delve into the film that started it all.

Two men awaken in a dilapidated bathroom unknowing of how they got there. With little time they must work together to figure out who put them there and why. When we learn of a serial killer named Jigsaw through the viewpoint of Dr. Gordon both men begin to realize why they are there and that escape may be more complicated than they thought. And in a stunning series of events everything builds up to a shocking finale.

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What many people may not know is that the film was made on a $1 million budget and everything was filmed in one location. And with such a budget we were able to get Danny Glover and Cary Elwes. The big mystery that would eventually reveal itself at the end is the emergence of Tobin Bell as Jigsaw himself. Jigsaw himself wasn’t given away through exposition but instead it fools the audience into thinking who’s pulling the strings the whole time. Even the ending has a gratifying result because soon as we discover the perpetrator it leaves the viewer wanting to see more. It also worked to a point that if the studio decided to not move forward with a sequel it would leave a mark in cinematic history.

There were two memorable scenes in the film and one of them would go on to be iconic in the entire series. The scene involves Amanda, played by Shawnee Smith, as she awakens with a reverse bear trap on her head. She must retrieve the key from her supposedly dead cell mate before the timer goes off. Simplicity is what made the film original and frightening especially when it comes to the traps. As the series progresses the traps get overly complicated but the reverse bear trap remains one of the most terrifying sequences and became the staple in the franchise.

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We may not have gotten a lot of background into Jigsaw but Tobin Bell would be revealed to be Hollywood’s next horror icon. Though little is known about his character we begin to discover the psyche in how Jigsaw works. And what’s different compared to the likes of ‘Friday the 13th‘ and ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street‘ is that we get a character that has a motivation besides just killing for the sake of killing. Jigsaw finds flaws in his victims and puts them in traps with hopes that their experience will change their perspectives on life. Again, this is not your typical horror thriller where someone goes after people with revenge in mind. Rather in a twisted sort of way it puts everyone in the city on edge.

As far as the acting in the film it is not groundbreaking nor Oscar worthy. There are moments when the lead character, Dr. Gordon, does come off a little over the top. We can’t even judge the performance by the villain because he’s lying on the floor the whole time. The only reasonable performance we see is with Danny Glover who is the detective that’s put on the case as he searches for the suspect behind the murders.

The movie is not perfect as there are far fetched scenarios sprinkled throughout. But the overall reaction to the film when it came out in 2004 was that of praise and raised moviegoer eyebrows. With the success the studio immediately moved forward with greenlighting a sequel that would come out in a year’s time. It was the dawn of a new franchise and would go on to become one of the most successful horror franchises in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Rating: 7/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Saw‘? Would you consider the original film to be groundbreaking in the horror franchise? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Nerve (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


Nerve-2016From the directors of Paranormal 3 & 4, are Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s take on a game that takes a person to their limits and once you start you’ll have to finish, or else. When Vee is pressured to take risks for a change by her best friend Sydney, she takes part in a viral game called Nerve. What starts as an innocent game of truth or dare soon takes a turn towards danger as complicated scenarios are thrown Vee’s way that could mean between life and death. The movie stars Dave Franco and Emma Roberts.

This movie reminded me a lot of ‘13 Sins‘ (2014) which has a similar premise when it came to making money and how someone is thrust into a deadly game with everything to lose. It worked as a thriller as the main character had to complete a series of tests but with each one being more dangerous as the last. But as for ‘Nerve‘ we get a more modern take on how the game utilizes social media to thrust people into uncharted territory and even to the point where it turns players against each other. Another way of looking at it is how so many people have embraced Pokemon Go and hearing how far people would go in catching all of the Pokemon, from getting into accidents or walking off cliffs. Now most of the events were unintended  but the gist of it is in the fact that it created a social media storm.

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Let’s start with the performances by Emma Roberts and Dave Franco as they each participate in Nerve but also finding attraction for one another at some point along the way. This in many ways was Franco’s first stand out performance, coming off of the Now You See Me franchise and ‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising‘ that came out earlier this year. He did a good job and was likable as a character who ends up playing a pivotal role along the way. Same can be said for Emma Roberts who at times can make it not seem believable; especially when she’s known for playing it safe to then jumping into being a risk taker. You do get a sense of understanding though for Vee as someone who wants to better herself and wants to move out of her mom’s home. By participating in Nerve it not only breaks her fear of risk but she can also make money along the way as a means.

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Without giving away spoilers as it’s implied in the trailer is how focus was put on the use of social media and the consequences that could follow. The game requires both watchers and viewers which after the movie you’ll understand to the extent of what I am saying. It brought to light how influential social media can have on people, good or bad, and how being a watcher is just as powerful. The ending to the movie is where I’m making my point and it reminded me of how feeding into an event or participating in something that you’re not so sure about can be just as dangerous as to those behind the lens. Things that came to mind were bullying or even the political climate where the media can influence viewers in ways we don’t even know and can sometimes determine the outcome.

Some of the problems I had with ‘Nerve‘ stemmed from the lack of origin of how the game came to be. It’s given some explanation of how the game exists but is treated as a game that doesn’t have an origin. However, what got me the most was how illogical and irresponsible watchers could be when it came to daring people. Some of the challenges were downright dangerous and made you think that the watchers were the real villains as they watch people die from dares they all agreed to. The love component between Vee and Ian is unrealistic and always makes me wonder why that’s thrown in because they easily could’ve turned into good friends. It’s almost as if the filmmakers were trying to appeal to the female audience when in fact the movie was advertised as an action thriller. Last but not least, this is a one trick pony and doesn’t have a re-watchability to it which may as well have been put straight to Video-On-Demand.

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There is fun to be had with a premise that isn’t so original and some good chemistry between James Franco and Emma Roberts, but ultimately the thrills go over the top and becomes illogical as the movie progresses. Without making comparisons, ‘Nerve‘ is definitely better then Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s found footage projects in horror. That said, it is entertaining enough and has some jaw dropping camera work especially if you have a fear of heights.

Rating: 6/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Nerve‘? Do you plan on watching the movie? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Dirty Grandpa (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


MV5BMzk0NzkyNDk2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDczOTU3NzE@._V1_SX214_AL_Jason is about to get married when his grandmother passes away. His grandfather, Dick, doesn’t take to the news so easily. But when Dick asks Jason to drive him to Florida a perverted side of his grandfather comes out and gets him into unphathomable situations. The film is directed by Dan Mazer (I Give It A Year), and stars Zach Efron and Robert De Niro.

If there was any movie Robert De Niro was in that wasn’t good, this may top the cake. ‘Dirty Grandpa‘ has to be one of the worst comedies De Niro has been in for some time. There was no sanity to any of the characters; especially that of Jason’s grandfather. Zac Efron plays the grandson of Dick Kelly and is preparing for his wedding with Meredith (Julianne Hough). While on the road Jason is taken aback by the perverted side of his grandfather and wants to live to the extreme while he still can. There being so much masterbating, drug use, alcohol, and penis references it can only make someone go crazy. And that’s where the problem lies for the movie as it’s just bombarded by so much of it.

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There are moments where the audience, including myself, laughed pretty hard; especially a scene where Jason wakes up on a beach and has an altercation with a kid and his parent. Towards the latter end of the film we get some closure between Jason and his grandfather as Dick wants live out the rest of his life by reliving his youth. Hence, all the chaos ensued leading up to the last 20 minutes of the movie. The movie was just filled with over the top characters who were more off putting than were actually funny. For instance, Aubrey Plaza plays as Lenore who is friends of Shadia (Zoey Deutch) and Tyrone (Brandon Mychal Smith). Lenore was looking to have sex with a professor as part of her high school promises. Enter Dick Kelly who is looking for a younger girl to have sex with and you have some of the wildest personalities from both of them.

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We’ve yet to mention Zac Efron who’s performance throughout this movie was a bit out of his element. He was in ‘Neighbors‘ where he was able to pull off as a fraternity president who put his fellow neighbors through hell. In ‘Dirty Grandpa‘ he played on the opposite side of the fence. This time as the victim if you want to say since things are happening to him. Again it was an odd movie for both Efron and De Niro with very little of a script to follow.

Being over-the-top for a good chunk of the movie with very little plot to it, ‘Dirty Grandpa‘ is exactly what you expect. Definitely a pass if your looking for a good comedy as here your met with good actors in Zac Efron and Robert De Niro, but a terrible script and poor direction. You may get a good laugh here or there but not enough to make it a pleasant experience.

Rating: 3/10

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What do you guys think? Are you planning to watch ‘Dirty Grandpa‘? Comment below and share your thoughts.