Movie Review: Jigsaw

The Saw franchise has taken a long break. Seven years since the last movie and many rumors later, we have been delivered Jigsaw. Directed by Michael and Peter Spierig and written by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg. None of them have a ton of experience with some of the most notable movie being from Pete and Josh such as Piranha 3D. That lack of experience is concerning, but it is always great to see that people are getting the opportunity to work on a bigger franchise like Saw. For me, I am a huge fan of the Saw franchise, which will make anyone reading this cringe or cheer. I love the first four movies despite their flaws. The last few became monotonous and got trapped in a cycle that generates money but decreases quality. When Jigsaw got an official trailer, it got me excited. My expectations were kept low, but when I got into the theater, my excitement level maintained. Did this long break save this sinking franchise? Not at all.

The story starts ten years after John Kramer’s death, introducing us to a group of people in one of Jigsaw’s traps. As usual, they must complete the game to survive. The four people—Anna (Laura Vandervoot), Ryan (Paul Braunstein), Mitch (Mandela Van Peebles), and Carly (Brittany Allen). None of them were perfect as actors or had good characters to play. The worst was Ryan, the most generic and annoying of the group who I was hoping would have a creative death. The other side of the story shows two detectives, Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) and Keith Hunt (Cle Bennet). Both are generic detectives, especially Halloran who is painful to see this cheesy, crooked, and utterly bizarre detective. They are working together with Logan Nelson and Eleanor Bonneville who are two medical examiners. These two are the closest to interesting characters but are still relatively bland. On this search for the people in Jigsaw’s trap, there is the question whether John Kramer aka Jigsaw is alive or not. Of course, just like every movie, Tobin Bell reprises his role as John, despite being dead in several films now. The usual twist ending gives somewhat of a satisfying end. The main problem is that this has been done so many times before in the Saw series. Nothing new is done to the story or characters.

The traps and brutal deaths help keep this franchise afloat. Despite the last couple of movies declining in quality, at least they had some good death scenes. There may have been only one or two deaths in the entire movie that was rememberable. Most of which felt less creative, which is expected after making so many movies. You would have thought that such a long break could have given the writers some time to come up with a more creative story and traps, but just like many horror movie franchises, they burn themselves out. If only we were given creative enough deaths and traps then that could have potentially helped lift this movie up even in the slightest.

There is not a whole lot to say about this movie. It blends in with the past couple of Saw movies and goes to show that the franchise is dead, sadly. I wish this could have been a revival of the series. I was rooting for this movie to be good.  Sadly with bland characters, poor creativity, and a generic story made this into another Saw movie meant to get money and keep a sinking franchise afloat. There were different things done early on to make the audience interested and captured by the tone of the film. Keeping a low budget and smaller stories to tell worked best. If the studio wants this series to be alive and make them money, they need to go back to their roots. If you love Saw, you may not like this. If you can be easily entertained by a violent horror movie, then you might have some level of fun. On the bright side of everything about this movie, we still have that great soundtrack that will live forever and give a redeeming quality to any Saw movie.

Score: 3/10

Image via Lionsgate

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

The sequel to the 1982 cult classic “Blade Runner” is finally here. Fans of the original are excited about the release. “Blade Runner 2049” is getting a lot of praise all over the internet. Me, however, I was not so much. I came in hoping to love it like everyone else, but sadly, I felt disappointed and bored.

The world is a future in which synthetic humans called replicants are bioengineered by the Tyrell Corporation who have escaped onto Earth. The Blade Runner is a police officer whose job is to hunt down these replicants. This story takes place in the year 2049, decades after the first movie. Ryan Gosling plays as Officer K, who discovers something that can cause a lot of chaos in an already damaged world. His hunt leads him to try to find Harrison Ford who plays as the protagonist of the first movie, Officer Deckard.

Just like the first movie, there is a painful slow burn with a lot of mystery. The world is fleshed out, but most of it still remains a mystery to the audience. I usually like slow burn movies with a lot of ambiguity, but it did not pan out for me. Just like the original, clocking in at nearly 3 hours drags the audience down a tedious road. Teasing you with potential answers that feel like they may never go anywhere. The balance of questions and answers felt wrong. I felt more frustrated about not knowing enough which left me confused. This is not because I have not seen the first movie. Just about everyone who has seen 2049, says that there is no need to see the original to understand everything. This might be true, but it does not excuse the fact that it does leave the audience confused. As it proved by the annoying lady in front of me, who kept asking questions to her husband.

Well, what about characters? Officer K is not human, so he is just like any other movie with a robotic main character, which means he is lifeless. Going through the entire film with just him is painful. I love Ryan Gosling, but this role felt like it could have been played by anyone. The rest are relatively interesting. Lieutenant Joshi, played by Robin Wright, is Officer K’s boss. She is a human who holds a lot of power over everything. For the most part, it is just her pushing down on Officer K, but her performance is compelling. The best character is hands down Joi, played by Ana De Armas, who is a holographic woman in K’s life. She is there as his only real companion. She brings out so much out of K, as he brings out so much out of her. Their chemistry is probably the best part of the movie. The main antagonist is Luv, played by Sylvia Hoeks. She is sent by Jared Leto’s character, Niander Wallace, who is the CEO of his own corporation that creates replicants. Luv is a replicant trying to seek out the mystery that Officer K is trying to solve. She is tough and relentless. Just like the other female characters, she is one of the best parts of the movie. She steals every scene that she is in. Niander felt like he was going to be a big part, but the character fell so flat. Jared did an excellent job on his performance, but the character itself brought not a whole lot to me. The characters that are good, still are not enough to truly save the movie.

The world around is beautifully crafted. Much of the colors are typically grey throughout the movie, with an orange-brown to the desert that looks pretty. Holograms are throughout the city for advertisements. A Japanese theme is in both the original and sequel. For some reason, America thinks our future will be full of flying cars and a Japanese aesthetic. Despite this being something in a lot of American sci-fi, it still looks great in “Blade Runner 2049”. I felt like they could have utilized looks a lot more. Just like many of the elements of the film, it felt underutilized. People said this was one of the best looking movies in recent years. It is beautiful, but I was hoping for more.

Beautiful and well made are accurate words to use for this artsy sci-fi flick, but it does not do it for me. The horrible pacing, tedious and almost manipulative storytelling, lack of interesting characters, and elements feeling underutilized killed this movie for me. I wanted to like it, but I could not see exactly why people love it so much. Just like the original, “Blade Runner 2049” will be a cult classic that fails at the box office, but will live in the hearts of its fans. If you love the first movie, this is for you. If you have not seen the first, then be prepared mentally to be possibly bored. If you go in with low expectations, that may help you fall in love.

Score: 6/10

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Image via Warner Bros. Pictures