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Jigsaw and his apprentice Amanda are dead. Now, upon the news of Detective Kerry's murder, two seasoned FBI profilers, Agent Strahm and Agent Perez, arrive in the terrified community to assist the veteran Detective Hoffman in sifting through Jigsaw's latest grizzly remains and piecing together the puzzle. However, when SWAT Commander Rigg is abducted and thrust into a game, the last officer untouched by Jigsaw has but ninety minutes to overcome a series of demented traps and save an old friend or face the deadly consequences.
For more about Saw IV and the Saw IV Blu-ray release, see Saw IV Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 18, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Writers: Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton
Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Lyriq Bent, Athena Karkanis
» See full cast & crew
Saw IV Blu-ray Review
Saw IV continues the series in the tradition of the first two films.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 18, 2008
Warning: this review contains spoilers relating to earlier films in the Saw franchise.
It's not over. The games have just begun.
Those words scare me perhaps more than anything I've witnessed in any of the films of the Saw franchise. A new Saw movie comes out every Halloween. I would guess that the upcoming Saw V will follow in the footsteps of this disc and not see the light of day on Blu-ray for about a year. Thank goodness for life's little miracles. After watching the "quadrilogy" (to steal a word from Fox) over the course of the past few days, witnessing Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV for the first time, I must admit that I'm not completely disappointed with the series. I've been impressed that each film builds off the events of the previous films in the franchise, and even if things continue to become more and more illogical, I'll give credit to the writers for trying to make the Saw franchise into something other horror series just don't even bother shooting for. I'm also impressed with the way each movie wraps up at the end, all following a certain visual style as the secrets of the film, and films past, are revealed to both the protagonists and to the audience. Don't get me wrong, the Saw films aren't masterpieces and I doubt I'll ever revisit them again, but they take a novel approach to horror move franchise filmmaking, and for that I am grateful. That said, the last two movies have stretched the story line pretty thin, and I can only hope that Saw V manages to reel the franchise back into some semblance of a level headed, grounded story without getting overly complex or laughable.
As Saw IV opens, gore fiends are treated to an autopsy of Jigsaw's body. We see it performed in excruciating, stomach churning detail. The doctors find a micro cassette tape in the killer's stomach, which will prove to be important by the end of the film. Meanwhile, investigators, along with Officer Rigg (Lyriq Bent, reprising his role from previous films in the series), discover the location of detective Kerry's (Dina Meyer, also reprising her role from previous Saw films) corpse. Investigators believe that the small statured Amanda (Shawnee Smith, veteran of the series) and Jigsaw (Tobin Bell, Saw star) could not have suspended her body alone and that there must be a third, as of yet unknown, associate on the loose. This assailant proceeds to attack officer Rigg and when he awakens, he finds himself victim to a Jigsaw-esque game where he is given 90 minutes to find detective Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg, Saw II) who is still alive and in the custody of Jigsaw's mysterious assistant some six months later. Rigg must travel to several locations where he is forced to choose whether to help victims escape from their traps or allow them to remain as they are. As Rigg gets closer to finding detective Matthews, subsequent events lead the viewer to realize that the events of Saw IV are actually happening in conjunction with those of Saw III and several mysteries are revealed in clever fashion. There's just too much going on to say anything else without spoiling some part of the film, so I'll stop here and allow the movie, should you choose to watch it, to unravel the mysteries for you because everything ties together in a very clever fashion.
Thankfully, Saw IV returns the series back to its roots, foregoing the extreme violence of the third film in favor of a horror movie with a decent plot, decent writing, chills, scares, and some mystery and thriller elements tossed in to make it a passable film. This is easily the second bloodiest film in the series, but the carnage is nonetheless toned down considerably in this film in comparison to part III. Officer Rigg proved to be my favorite protagonist (or victim) in the series. For once we get a somewhat competent hero who attempts the obvious before panicking or acting foolish. When he awakens in his tub, about to begin the game, he checks the door for traps and grabs his Beretta handgun before meandering around, calling out for someone, crying, or doing various other stupid things horror movie victims do. Perhaps he's watched Scream and knows the rules of horror.
Technically, this is the best Saw yet. It's obvious that the filmmakers are getting comfortable with not only the characters and the material, but also with how they handle themselves and the approach they take to making movies. Director Darren Lynn Bousman has now helmed 75% of the series, and I think that is one of the reasons Saw IV worked as well as it did, namely because of his passion for the franchise and heavy involvement in it. As I've mentioned in my reviews for the other Saw films, these movies are meant as escapist films, not anything overly profound or important, although there can be a certain higher meaning too if one wants to dig pretty deep for it. I'm certainly not in love with the series but the continued reliance on one ongoing story rather than sequel after sequel of disjointed stories that are mostly carbon copies of one another is certainly a welcome change of pace for this casual horror fan.
Saw IV Blu-ray, Video Quality
Black bar haters, rejoice. Saw IV is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and this 1080p transfer is easily the best yet in the Saw series. This movie retains the dark and grainy look of the first three films, but this transfer doesn't suffer as badly as its predecessors. Black levels look almost perfect. They are a nice, dark, inky shade while retaining subtle details in dark scenes without reverting to artificial brightening to reveal parts of the image. There is a yellow-green tint about the film that is a bit more pronounced than in previous Saw movies, and the transfer never misses a beat in rendering this odd look. Considering the unique look of the film, skin tones are represented about as accurately as could be expected. The image is fairly detailed, but is quite flat and lacks depth. The detail throughout is high enough to make this transfer a good one overall. With the overly stylized look of the film, expecting Saw films to look any better than this is foolish.
Saw IV Blu-ray, Audio Quality
A first for any Blu-ray in the Saw series, Saw IV is presented with a high definition lossless audio track. Accompanying the Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix, the DTS-HD Master Audio track sounds great and is easily the best sonic experience of any Saw film to date. This track offers excellent dynamics with every sound, from the super loud to the extra quiet, rendered with near perfect clarity and detail. The sound sweeps across the room in conjunction with the rapid camera pans. Surrounds are powerful and deliver a big impact, heightening the feel of the film. The good, deep bass found here is not Earth shattering but is effective nevertheless, providing a solid punch and rumble during the most tense and action packed of scenes. Dialogue comes across as clear with no audible dropouts, drownings, or otherwise distracting issues. There are a few really good loud, scary musical cues scattered throughout the movie. I was very pleased with this track. DTS-HD MA has quickly become my favorite high definition codec and it shines on this disc.
Saw IV Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
While the extras here are not as large in quantity as those found on the Saw III Blu-ray disc, we are nevertheless treated to a fine helping of supplemental material. First up is a track featuring producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg and executive producers Peter Block and Jason Constantine. The participants discuss the movie with a fairly even hand, providing very good background information on the film. They delve into technical aspects such as the color and lighting of the film and discuss having technical advisors present on set as well as on-screen references to other Saw films. This is a very good commentary track that fans will want to spend some time with. Next up is a commentary track featuring director Darren Bousman and actor Lyriq Bent. This is a more relaxed commentary with some jokes, laughing, and humor thrown into the mix. I generally enjoy these tracks over the completely technical ones, but the participants in the first track found just the right tone and pace to make a generally dull track listenable. This one, while good, is just underwhelming after listening to the first one. It's for the fans only, and if you only have time to listen to one, choose the first.
If you have reviewed the supplements on the Saw III Blu-ray disc, many of the following features should look and sound very familiar to you. Darren's Video Diary (1080i, 33:00) is a good look at various behind-the-scenes production discussions between the crew. We see the team dealing with leaked story lines, figuring out how to stage scenes, a look into production meetings, rehearsals of scenes, and so on. Movie fans wanting to know more about the behind- the-scenes workings of a major Hollywood picture will enjoy this feature. The Traps of 'Saw IV' (480p, 16:45) looks at the making of seven of the traps from the film from the brainstorming process to building the devices. The Props of 'Saw IV' (1080i, 8:58) features a look at the progression of everyday items being turned into tools of torture and murder.
The 'Saw IV' Music Video by 'X Japan' (480p, 5:07) features a performance of a song entitled, fittingly, I.V. A bonus deleted scene entitled Police Station (480p, 0:44), a 480p trailer for the upcoming video game Comdemned 2: Bloodshot, the 1080p theatrical trailer for Saw IV, and Lionsgate's Blu-ray montage conclude the "traditional" special features.
Saw IV is the first Blu-ray to support profile 2.0 features. Becasue no Blu-ray player on the market currently supports profile 2.0, I was unable to test this feature. The Playstation 3 is scheduled to support profile 2.0 via a firmware update in the near future, so the majority of Blu-ray fans will soon have access to this feature. Lionsgate calls their first profile 2.0 feature "MoLog." The packaging of this disc bills this feature as "the world's first interactive Blu-ray movie blog!" I was actually able to access a portion of the feature, but was informed that the "server cannot be reached. Please check your player connectivity" when I attempted to register. When I have access to this feature, I'll be sure to update this review.
One word of note on the packaging of this disc. Lionsgate continues to place security stickers on three of the four edges of the case. Thankfully, they seem to now be using a sticker that leaves behind virtually no residue on the case, which is sure to be a fan pleasing move. Unfortunately, Lionsgate chose not to use the top security sticker with a cut-out where the logo on the front of the case is (like those used on Warner Brothers Blu-ray discs). Removing the sticker resulted in a removal of part of the paint of the logo, leaving a sticky and unattractive Blu-ray logo at the top of the case. The large, square, and black security sticker on the inside of the case is still present, but this one comes off much easier, again leaving behind virtually no residue. While Lionsgate has solved two problems, they have created another. Collectors who purchase these discs for $20-$30 should not have to live with a ruined case right from the get-go. Hopefully Lionsgate will rectify this situation once and for all on their future releases.
Saw IV Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Saw IV is far from great cinema, but it's passable horror that throws several nice twists and turns at viewers that will keep them guessing until the surprising ending. This movie turns down the gore and turns up the story, providing a more streamlined, palatable film that is just fine in the context of horror and the series. The film is the most polished of the franchise. This comes as no surprise as many of the same cast and crew have dedicated themselves to the world of Saw. Concerning the Blu-ray, this disc really shines. We get top notch video and audio quality that blows away the previous three films and is no slouch standing on its own merits alongside many of the best Blu-ray discs currently available. The supplements are just fine, too. Neither fans of high cinema nor casual moviegoers will likely enjoy this film, however. It's plenty bloody and makes little sense if you are not familiar with the previous entries into the series. As such, Saw IV is recommended, but only for fans of the series. Everyone else is best served to start from the beginning.
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Saw IV Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Web-enabled Titles to Come this January - December 6, 2007
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced that two of their upcoming January Blu-ray titles will feature web-enabled features. As we reported from the Blu-ray Festival, 'War', which is scheduled to hit store shelves on January 1st, will feature a web-enabled ...
• Saw IV Being Prepared for Blu-ray Release - November 26, 2007
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the latest in the "Saw" franchise, 'Saw IV' to Blu-ray on January 22nd, day-and-date with the DVD release. Specs have yet to be announced for the release, which will be presented in the unrated ...
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