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Spiral: From The Book Of Saw (Lionsgate) UHD Review

    Ian Jane

  • Spiral: From The Book Of Saw (Lionsgate) UHD Review

    Released by: Lionsgate
    Released on: July 20th, 2021.
    Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
    Cast: Chris Rock, Samuel Jackson, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, John Tokatlidis
    Year: 2020
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    Spiral: From The Book Of Saw - Movie Review:

    When Jigsaw came out in 2017 you knew damn well that wasn't going to be the end of the Saw franchise, and sure enough, four years later Lionsgate once again returns to the well, this time with Darren Lynn Bousman (who directed Saw II, Saw III and Saw IV) back at the helm for 2021's Spiral: From The Book Of Saw.

    The movie opens with a scene at a street fair. Fireworks are going off all over the place and a thief snatches a woman's purse. A cop named Marv 'Boz' Boswick (Dan Petronijevic) gives chase, thinking he's cornered the perp when he hides in an outhouse. After all, there's no way to get out of there, right? Nope! The crook jumps into the a hole in the ground that leads down into the city's subway tunnels. Before you know it, Boz has his tongue trapped in some rather fierce looking metal contraption from which he'll have to escape before the oncoming train turns him into jelly. It doesn't end well for him.

    The subway driver calls in the accident and Captain Angie Garza (Marisol Nichols) sends two cops to the scene. Detective Zeke Banks (Chris Rock) and his rookie partner Detective William Schenk (Max Minghella) arrive and try to put together the pieces of the puzzle but there isn't much to work with. Soon enough, other cops start getting killed off in similarly complicated and grisly fashion, and it becomes clear that this Jigsaw copycat killer is specifically targeting cops. Does this time into Zeke's past? He's the son of former police captain Detective Marcus Banks (Samuel L. Jackson) and his rookie partner Detective William Schenk (Max Minghella) and somewhat hated on the force for ratting out his partner Pete Dunleavy (Patrick McManus) for shooting a witness years back.

    First things first - if you like the Saw movies, it stands to reason that you'll enjoy this latest entry and if you don't like the Saw movies, it stands to reason that you won't. While the movie introduces a host of new characters and references Jigsaw only in passing (though there is an amusing nod to one of the more iconic scenes in the first film), it is still very much in the same vein as the films that came before it. Bousman and company, once again shooting on location in Toronto, do what they do quite well but don't really bring anything new to the series. That means that, yes, we get some very creative murder set pieces involving nasty traps that maim, dismember and kill and that, yes, we get a couple of nice twists in the last twenty-minutes or so - which is all well and good - but this one pretty much sticks to the formula.

    As to the cast, it's interesting to see Chris Rock in a more serious, dramatic role here. He was quite good in the recent season of Fargo and he handles this material just fine. His copy is, however, a giant cliché. He's the one good cop on the force, fighting against the system and arguing with his captain. He wants to work alone and wants nothing to do with the rookie partner he's been saddled with, but of course he grows to respect the kid as he learns the ropes. There isn't much originality in any of the characters. Max Minghella is fine as the partner, Marisol Nichols is fine as the captain, and Samuel L. Jackson is typically memorable in his role but underused overall.

    But it's fine. Sprial gives you what you expect out of a Saw movie. No more, no less, but it makes for a decent enough time killer.

    Spiral: From The Book Of Saw - UHD Review:

    Lionsgate brings Spiral: From The Book Of Saw to UHD in an HEVC encoded 2160p high definition transfer with HDR framed at 2.39.1 widescreen. Shot digitally, the image is as spotless as you'd expect. The film is, visually, quite dark but colors pop when they need to and black levels are pretty much reference quality here. Shadow detail is solid and detail in general is just very, very impressive here. Skin tones look great, and there's a lot of very noticeable depth and texture here. Compression artifacts are never a problem here at all, this movie looks excellent in 4k.

    Audio options are provided in Dolby Atmos, 24-bit Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Removable subtitles are offered in English, English SDH, French and Spanish. The Atmos track is reference quality stuff, a very aggressive and enveloping mix that never seems artificially boosted or 'too much.' Dialogue is always clean, always clear and everything is nicely balanced throughout.

    Extras for this release start off with a new audio commentary featuring director Darren Lynn Bousman, co-screenwriter Josh Stolberg and composer Charlie Clouser. Bousman, not surprisingly, is the ring leader here, but both Stolberg and Clouser have quite a bit to say. The track covers a good bit of ground, discussing what went into bringing the franchise back, the evolution of the story and the script, scoring the picture, effects work and what it was like working with the cast and crew assembled for the production. A second audio commentary features producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg, and it's also got a lot of information in it. They also cover the impetus behind bringing the franchise back after a few years, casting the film, thoughts on the script, bringing Bousman on board to direct and more.

    As to the featurettes, The Consequences Of Your Actions: Creating Spiral is a fifty-nine minute documentary that does a great job of bringing us behind the scenes and showing us pretty much everything that went into getting this film made. We get plenty of cast and crew interviews and a lot of behind the scenes footage as well, and it's quite in-depth and substantive.

    There are a few shorter pieces here as well. Drawing Inspiration: Illustrated Trap Breakdowns (is a nine-minute tour, with Bousman playing tour guide, that shows us how some of the traps were created and exploited for the film's various trap set pieces (pretty much always the most memorable moments of a Saw film, and Spiral is no exception to that). Decoding The Marketing Spiral is an interesting six-minute piece that shows how various pieces of art were created for the film's marketing campaign and what went into creating those pieces.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are theatrical and teaser trailers for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Lionsgate bundles the UHD disc with a Blu-ray disc and an insert for a digital HD download version of the movie and a slipcover.

    Spiral: From The Book Of Saw - The Final Word:

    Spiral: From The Book Of Saw is decent entertainment even if it relies far too heavily on clichés that a stronger script might have avoided. Still, it gives you what you want out of a Saw film. Lionsgate's UHD release offers up a reference quality presentation and a nice selection of extras as well. Fans of the film or the franchise in general will find a lot to like here.

    Click on the images below for full sized Spiral: From The Book Of Saw Blu-ray screen caps that don't look as good as the UHD reviewed above (but reviews without screen caps are boring)!

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