The picture presents a widescreen 1.78:1 1080p transfer in both 3D and 2D, the disc itself is locked to Region B.
Another one of the very few live action native 3D discs joins the ranks of Resident Evil: Regeneration, Step Up and to a lesser extent Avatar (since that was sixty percent C.G.) in promoting just how good this new format can look when filmed correctly. For a mainly studio bound production the framing of the image is well constructed to give decent depth to the frame, the best way to showcase 3D, but, despite the producer’s commentary to the contrary, there are plenty of ‘in your face’ moments which brings the 3D effect way out of the screen, which, at times, is a bit too much. Intimate framing of two shots allows for tangible distance between the actors, while the actors themselves are nicely solid and ‘round’, and stand within a well designed set that shows depth to the back. The few exterior shots really show off the 3D effect to its fullest extent; particularly the first trap which starts off with a terrific pan over an open square with its many people milling about in front of tall buildings; imagine looking around any such square in real life; that’s what is on show here – the brightly lit (despite the on/off rain for the shoot) area makes to most of the HD cameras and really pulls into the screen showing off depth and height. As to the trap itself, well here there are plenty of ‘in your face’ moments, such as the saws front and centre, or intestines and blood squirting at your face, thus in this one scene you have both extremes of the format. The other exterior shot, the junk yard, capitalises on the depth aspect as the rows and rows of cars flow back into the screen, while each vehicle has a tangible solidity with a front, middle and back section clearly discernable. Other ‘in your face’ moments include spikes poking your eyes out, wood and other debris flying at the screen and a body which lands in your lap. But the best effect was far simpler; a key being dropped from a height as we watch it fall down ‘into’ the screen. (Actually the very best effect was the Lionsgate logo at the very beginning of the picture!) Other notable effects are in the TV studio the distance shots showing the size of the place with its many cameras, boom mikes and people defining the layers moving into the screen. 3D effects are helped a great deal by the lighting, it can add to the dimension immensely, however, the Saw franchise has a very distinct lighting scheme and, at times, this was at odds with the effect and could skew the illusion and thus shorten the frame dramatically.
As to the rest of the image, well the HD cameras do pick out detail extremely well, from the intricate nature of some of the traps, with their winding cogs and slippery oil, to skin detail and clothing weaves. One detrimental effect is that the quality also picked up on some of the prosthetics, but we can forgive that. There was the occasional bout of softness, but this was very rare.
Colours are, for the most part, extremely bold and strong, the primaries, particularly the ‘Saw’ green coming across with gusto. Reds, on the other hand, can fluctuate depending on the filter being used, so blood can be a sickly deep purple to a bright pink! The blues, too are well showcased and all colours show no hint of bleed or wash. Flesh tones, again, depend on the filter being used, and are best seen in the opening exterior shot; the TV studio didn’t show so well with the presenter being of a particularly peculiar pigment.
Brightness and contrast are set to give some wonderfully deep blacks, which not only add to the depth of the frame but also bringing out the boldness of colour. Occasionally the brightness did seem to ramp up a bit, giving a slightly ‘washed out’ look, this not only destroyed the colour but also the 3D effect. I don’t see this a transfer fault but rather an original print problem due to the learning curve employed for the 3D filming (the producers say as much in their commentary), strange how it got through quality control though.
Digitally there are no compression problems, no banding or posterization though I did spot some very slight edge enhancement. Being shot in HD there is no grain, neither is there any noise, even in the depths of the black. Cross talk was very modest and gone within a scene cut. In all this is an extremely competent picture marred by a few slight flaws.
Only the one track to choose from; English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, but thankfully it’s a doozy! Things really get off to a good start with the Lionsgate logo, producing deep rumbling bass and tinkling crisp high notes as the cogs turn, and setting the scene for the remaining film. First off, bass, it’s heavy, man – from the near defining explosion in the junk yard to the whirring of the traps, there is plenty for the LF channel to smile about; not sure the neighbours will be smiling the following day though as the effects, coupled with the many bass heavy metal track pounds the air with a ferocity seldom matched on any disc. Actually I thought it was a little over the top, a nonstop barrage of air thumping action that did not let up. Luckily the low end is matched well by giving a clear and precise vocal channel, the dialogue is always understandable and the screams are piercing enough even during the most horrific of mayhem. Further finesse is added with the attention to detail with regard the effects; every splat, spurt and squelch is exuded with relish as the various bodies are dismembered and spread around the room; stereo effects matching nicely with the on screen action. However in the end I felt it was just a wall of sound rather than an immersive experience – great if you like that sort of thing, but there are better tracks to show off your system.
- Audio Commentaries - The extras start off with two audio commentaries; the first is with titled ‘The Producers’ with contributions from Oren Koules, Peter Block and Mark Burg who discuss at length the series so far, the direction of this last instalment, the use of 3D, the actors, the story, the traps and the possibility of prequels. It’s an informative and quiet engaging talk, with few gaps, and the chat seldom stops. The second is ‘The Writers’ with Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan who cover similar ground but from their own perspective with regard to the writing and story aspects. Both have their merits and together they cover the complete production.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes – 13.45, HD - A total of six scenes that can be watched individually or all together with a play all function, ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. The scene titles tell you exactly what you are going to see and none really add anything new to the picture. Scene titles are: Jigsaw Finds Gordon, Extended Interview, Extended Church, Bar, Bobby Sees Joyce on TV and Bobby at 1st Group.
- Music videos - Five music videos of the type of music that pounds away with screaming vocals, titles are: Goliath by Karnivool, Cocaine Chest Pains by Kopek, Pass Out by I-Exist, Hageshia To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No Yami by Dir En Grey and Full of Regret by Danko Jones, none of which did anything for me.
- 52 Ways to die - 14.15, HD - Effects and trap designers David Hackl, Jason Ehl, Tony Ianni and Jim Murray talk us through the various traps that have been used throughout the seven films, their thoughts behind them, their own personal favourites and where they thought the ideas were stretched and not very good. It’s all good natured and quite candid, but far too much reliance on film clips. Ends with a montage of all fifty two traps from all seven films.
- Trailer - Is, the trailer.
- 2D Version - The film but in 2D, this is a combo disc so is selectable from the menu.
Not an exhaustive selection of extras by any means, but some enjoyment to be had if you want to delve behind the scenes for the film, the commentaries are both informative even though they share similar comments and whilst the only other worthwhile feature is rather short, meeting the minds behind the sick traps is worth a watch.
Saw 3D is the seventh film in the series and purports to be the final chapter – in that respect that it does bring to a close the season of films by a somewhat unbelievable contrivance by tying into the first film. However, the series of films do contain a good deal of continuity and thus if you are coming to this film without seeing any of the previous instalments, it will make no sense; I struggled as I’ve only seen the first two. As a 3D film there is plenty to see and enjoy, for a mostly studio bound production the picture is framed very well to instil depth to the frame and for those that like 3D ‘in your face’ Saw is happy to oblige with blood, intestines, drills, spikes and, of course, a saw itself up front and personal. As a individual film it is non-stop noise and gore that has the effect of pounding you into submission – it is a product of the Saw franchise, you know what you are going to get when you spin the disc, and those that enjoy this kind of thing will have a ball. Those that don’t will know to give it a miss.
As a Region B locked 3D Blu-ray, Lionsgate have provided a very decent 3D transfer, barring a few slight problems, with a room shaking DTS-HD MA 7.1 sound track that will have no problem in keeping your neighbours up, a condensed but concise extras package that should keep fans of the film happy for a few hours and the included 2D version of the film also makes this set a future proof buy.
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