Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Tangled" Review

I don't know why, but... I thought I'd review another Disney movie again.

Seriously, what is it with me and Disney lately? I don't really know. I think I'm slowly making up with them, but hey, I think our relations have improved over the past. Especially when they returned to hand-drawn animation with last year's The Princess and the Frog... which then proceeded to get blown away by singing chipmunks. Seriously.

So this year? Well... today's movie should tell you all about it.

Tangl--Wait, wait, stop the press!

I refuse to call this movie Tangled any longer. You know what? No. I won't play along with Disney's cheap marketing ploy. So from here on out, I will never refer to it as that. Instead, I shall refer to it as it was orginally titled, and how it should've been titled for release:


Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) is a lost princess who was stolen by Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) after a golden flower was used to save Rapunzel's birth mother that Gothel had been using to keep herself young forever. She is thus trapped at the top of a tower from her birth. However, all this changes when loveable rogue Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) comes into her life. Hoping to figure out the significance behind the lights that appear in the sky every night on her birthday, Rapunzel sets out with Flynn on a wild adventure.

Okay, so my first complaint: why the hell isn't this movie hand-drawn? I don't get it; a piece of me really wishes this was hand-drawn animation instead of computer animation, as Princess and the Frog proved they can still do hand-drawn animation really well. Take it with a grain of salt, though; all the animator's traditional tools are still there, and the movie looks gorgeous even if its computer animated.

My second complaint: Disney, what the hell were you thinking with your advertising campaign? I can understand trying to appeal to a wider audience, but come on! Misadvertising your movie as being a desperate Dreamworks knock-off is not the way to broaden appeal. Especially not when your marketing includes leaving out the fact that it has songs by Alan Menkin in there. (Yes, this movie has songs. And yes, they're all pretty good.) Yes, there are plenty of adventure elements, but at its core its a story about a princess; I think you can find some way to market it to boys without intentionally misadvertising your movie.

And... that's about it, I think. Everything else seems to click into place. As I mentioned before, the animation is gorgeous, but it's also helped by a very tight script that keeps everything together especially well. The characters are engaging, everything comes back somehow, and things are all good. Does it fit a little too well into the standard Disney Princess mold of story? Perhaps, but I found I didn't mind. The voiceover work for this movie is also astoundingly good; you can tell the chemistry between Rapunzel and Flynn is sizzling just by how effective the VA work between Moore and Levi is.

And the characters are also engaging, mostly because almost all of the major ones go somewhere. It would be a spoiler to talk about this in detail, so I won't. But let's just say that I've found one of my favorite villains of the year in Mother Gothel. Only at Disney can I get such effectively compelling villains, let me tell you.

And so, Ta-- er, excuse me, Rapunzel stands as another strong addition to the Disney animated canon. It's not exactly the most original Disney movie, but it's helped by an engaging script and beautiful animation. Perhaps the biggest drawback against this movie is the marketing campaign, and that's not a fault of the movie, so it shouldn't be counted as such.


It has a few flaws, but it's still worth checking out.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Herr Wozzeck Muses: Harry Potter and the Nerdicus Intotalus

I'll start this musing by stating the following: Harry Potter was the second affirmation I had ever gotten in my life that I would have something of a happy relationship with fictional properties.

It should come as no surprise that I am not a Harry Potter fan. Well, not in the most hardcore sense, and not as much as I used to, anyhow. When I was younger, I knew who Harry Potter was, I knew who Voldemort was, and I knew what was going on with everything pertaining to him. However, my curiosity was pretty involved, such that I can consider myself a fan.

The whole Harry Potter phenomenon is sort of attaching itself to me in a meta-sense, too: for the longest time, I had people telling me I look like Harry Potter. Which, if I'm donning my glasses, you can definitely see where they're coming from; I really did look very similar to Harry Potter. All I'd need would be the signature lightning-bolt scar and a not-fake British accent and I would be the spitting image of Harry Potter.

So naturally, I got pretty curious. And with that in mind, I set off on my Harry Potter journey.

So... I went and saw The Sorcerer's Stone when it came out in theaters. I'll admit I started reading its book, but never finished it. I forget why that is, but... I greatly enjoyed the first Harry Potter movie. I had never finished the book, but I could tell that they had put real effort into telling the story of the book as closely as possible. I was awed at the special effects, I felt for Harry Potter, and it was an incredibly entertaining story. So naturally, I was quite invigorated for the rest of the franchise.

So I went ahead and saw Chamber of Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkaban in theaters. I liked both quite a bit, even never having read the original books. The second movie was a little darker, but it still maintained the great adventure factor that the first one had, and it was quite enjoyable for all the same reasons. And the third part was also great for the same reasons I liked the first two parts. Even then, I knew something had changed between the second and third movie, but whatever it did it made the third one the best of the bunch.

In fact, I still maintain that Prisoner of Azkaban is the best HP film so far. Of course, the name Guillermo del Toro didn't ring any bells back then, but now, looking back and knowing about his other work (most specifically the piece of surreal awesomeness that is Pan's Labyrinth) I think that placing del Toro as the director was one of the smartest moves that they made for that film. But everything else clicked into place too.

By the time Prisoner of Azkaban had been released in theaters, I had begun to get caught up in the whole Harry Potter phenomenon. I was getting so into the movies that they in turn got me into the books. So I read Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix.

But, as I began the article, I'm not exactly a fan anymore. So what happened?

Well... Goblet of Fire was released in theaters. I don't remember ever being so disappointed at a movie; back then, I felt that they were putting far too much emphasis into the three trials for the Triwizard Tournament and left out so much of the interesting character development that even the first three movies were able to work in so well. I was also really annoyed that they completely cut the Quidditch match, as it broke the flow of the beginning of the movie. And on a personal note, I hated that they cut the entire Rita Skeeter subplot, as that was my favorite subplot of the book. I felt they focused too much on the action and not enough on the characters.

And so, Goblet of Fire killed my interest in the franchise. I didn't see Order of the Phoenix when it was released in theaters, and I didn't read the last two books. And I still haven't, to this day.

In recent years, though, it's had something of a light resurgence. I had an opportunity to see Half-Blood Prince in theaters last summer when I went over to a movie theater with my summer festival. I ultimately didn't, though, and those of you who read my review of Bruno way back when I started HWR can probably guess at what happened then.

So when the final chapter comes out? I finally decide to myself, 'oh, the hell with it'.

Will I ever fully get back into Harry Potter? Not completely. Will I ever forget my Harry Potter fan phase? Definitely not. It's created some rather fond memories, particularly of a group of Chinese girls I once had the pleasure of knowing when I visited Japan a couple of years back who noticed the similarity between me and the epinonymous wizard. And I think it was second hint I'd ever get in my life that I would become a nerd later in my life. A nerd for video games like Mass Effect and Heavy Rain, granted, but a nerd nevertheless.

And now? After so much has happened in my life, I'm proud to be a nerd. And it's this pride that allows me to say that at one time in my life, Harry Potter was one of my heroes.

This is Herr Wozzeck Muses. I'll see you guys next time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Ah, Harry Potter. The boy who lived, and worldwide phenomenon of story-telling. Also getting movies based on your exploits, I see.

Well... I personally have mixed feelings on the franchise. Personally, the first three chapters were things I liked greatly, but then part 4 turned me off to the film franchise. I read the entirety of Part 5, and know only the obligatory spoiler for Part 6.

So when the endgame for Harry Potter comes along? You better believe I want in on the action.

Without further ado, then, I give you today's movie...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is in an incredible predicament: Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is now chasing him down to try to kill him, and now the world of magic is transforming all around him to become far from the cheery thing he remembers as a child. Thus, he and Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) set out to find and destroy the horcruxes, the only things that can kill Voldemort.

So... the first thing I have to say? Well, if you haven't kept up with the series, this probably isn't the entry to get started on. Fortunately, I'm familiar enough with the Harry Potter mythos that I was more or less able to fill in the holes from what I remember of the franchise. But it doesn't really attempt to fill in anything for newcomers, so I wouldn't recommend jumping in without knowing the plot of all the previous installments.

It means the movie doesn't really stand on its own all that well; it relies on the entire rest of the franchise to do its work. But that's not a bad thing. One of the things that the movie does well is that it sets up the tone for what's to come. It can't help but feel like a prelude of sorts, but it makes the wise decision of taking a breath instead of constantly trying to wow us with special effect. Yes, they're still there, but it's not all prevalent.

And that's a strength for this movie; it allows us to really see into the characters and how they're reacting to things. As in the previous installments, it focuses on Harry, Hermoine, and Ron, but this time the stakes are so much higher. And the movie is not afraid to establish how much is at stake without resorting to infodumps, which I think makes the movie all the stronger. It has excellent characterizations to this effect, and we're allowed to feel the true gravity of the situations they find themselves in by virtue of what happens all around them. The fact that it doesn't ask us to buy into a ludicrous amount of action scenes attests to this, and I think it's for the best as we go around.

Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is a very good way to begin the finale of the Harry Potter franchise. It only ever really feels like a prologue, but it takes its time to establish the stakes here, and for this it proves to be a very effective movie, even if it can't stand on its own. The fact that it never tries to resort to action scenes creates some of the best characterization of the year, and it establishes how dire things are.

In short: this may be the movie that gets me back into the Harry Potter franchise.


Most definitely worth checking out.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Herr Wozzeck's Pit Fight: Skyline Vs. District 9

Warning: This pit fight will contain spoilers for both Skyline and District 9. You have been warned.

Okay, so I went to see Skyline last weekend, and I did not enjoy myself. It was a terrible movie, with terrible actors and a terrible script.

So if I told you that speculation was that it would be the next District 9, I'm sure you'd be hard-pressed to believe me on that. Yes, people actually thought it would be the next District 9, soley because both are low-budget sci-fi flicks about aliens. In fact, checking facts, Skyline was supposedly made for 10 million less than District 9.

That can't be the only link between them if Skyline is meant to be the next District 9.

So I've decided I'll pit them in a pit fight to prove once and for all that Skyline never had a chance in hell at being the next District 9.

Skyline Vs. District 9

Round 1: Story

And right off the bat we begin to see different things.

The focus of both movies is on the smaller people caught up in larger things. In the one, it's a group of ordinary people caught up in things; in fact, half the movie is spent watching things happen from that high-rise they're all in. In the other, it's just some guy doing stuff and then getting caught up in something greater than himself when he begins to mutate into an alien. Both have interesting angles on many things.

But there's one thing that seperates them; the method of first contact. One of the key things about District 9 was how it handled its aliens; they're more closely resembling African refugees than they are all-powerful invaders. This is one of the first things that should have tipped people off about it; the angle used for the aliens in Skyline is the same as it's always been with alien invasion stories. In District 9, meanwhile, the aliens aren't treated as invaders, but as victims, and the fact that they get thrown into an apartheid-type situation is more than enough proof that they are as different as can be. So the stories are automatically different.

In terms of plot, however, District 9 beats out Skyline. Yes, D9 might have a couple of plot holes for some people, but I'll take a plot hole over stupid characters doing face-palm inducing things just because the plot says so. As well, Skyline leaves a few plot threads hanging at the end, as well as having too many characters for its credit. D9 is more concentrated on a small group of characters and concepts, but it executes them all and explains them all well enough.

Winner: District 9

Round 2: Characters

Again, the two movies are completely different; both have fairly down-to-earth characters that are going about experiencing things beyond their control. And how they're written makes all the difference.

And both start off with fairly unlikeable main characters.

The problem, therefore, lies in the fact that the characters of Skyline aren't made to be jerks intentionally. Wikus of District 9 gleefully participates in what can arguably be termed genocide early on in the film, and some of it is truly difficult to watch. But it's intentional. In Skyline, we're introduced to the characters by watching them party. Oh, and they're also glaringly homophobic, which is something I didn't mention in the review because it's besides the point when they're all unlikeable for all sorts of other reasons.

The difference, then, lies in how they're written. And in this regard, District 9 easily beats Skyline. The problem with Skyline is that we're expected to sympathize with characters who are wholly unlikeable and have no development. Thus, we don't care about them. In District 9, however, we're not expected to until the plot demands it. And when the shit hits the fan in that movie? We actually do come to care about the main character. Wikus is written so much better than the entire cast of Skyline is chiefly because of this.

And the fact that we can sympathize with someone who's participated in the persecution of a race of sentient beings is what gives District 9 the point.

Winner: District 9

Round 3: Acting

Again, another similarity between the two is that the actors are all small in both movies. Although, that's also a bit of a stretch: most of the cast of Skyline are actors with fairly large reputations on TV: Jarrod was played by Gabe on Six Feet Under, Terry was played by Turq on Scrubs, and Oliver was played by Angel Batista on Dexter. This is a bit of a stretch, given that Sharlto Copley was virtually unknown in America before District 9 came along-- in fact, one could say it launched his career, if Copley's role in the recent A-Team reboot says anything.

And yet, the TV veterans all lose to the unknown man. This may have something to do with the fact that most of District 9's screenplay is improvised, but overall District 9 has much stronger acting than Skyline. The TV veterans can't get any kind of great emotion, particularly from the ladies who stand around to be nudged around by the men of the movie. And the acting as a result is terrible. I think the improvised screenplay of District 9 allowed Copley to bring something more personal to the table, and I think for this his performance is so much more effective because he actually lets the emotions ring through. And that's a lot more than I can say for Skyline

Winner: District 9

Round 4: Material

This can be summed up like this:

Skyline: Unlikeable characters with no development do incredibly retarded things while going on and on with melodrammatics about the state of the world and how stuff is horrible and oh who the fuck cares by the time we reach the one hour mark anyhow? Oh, and that ending comes right the fuck out of nowhere and is needlessly dark when compared to the rest of the movie.

District 9: An unlikeable character somehow becomes likeable because he's thrown into stuff and begins to see the true horrors of what's unfolding around him and oh my god he's turning into an alien and it's all gritty and stuff. Oh, and that ending is as dark as the rest of the movie, and there is an actual tear-jerking moment at the end.

I think you have a clear idea of where I'm going with this, but I'll add one last variable to this plate: one reason why District 9 is probably more effective is because it fleshes out its universe. We get development on basically everything, which suits its apartheid allegory. It gives the world of District 9 the feeling of being alive, which is much more than what can be said for Skyline. It's arguably fitting given that the world is being gutted in the latter, but it also means we care less about what is going on around the characters.

So I think you know what gets the point by now.

Winner: District 9

Round 5: Special Effects

And for our 5th round, we have special effects on the plate. Both are low-budget movies that have to give off impressive special effects to give the feeling that this really is an alien invasion.

Basically, both movies use a ton of CGI, with a couple of practical make-up jobs where applicable. That's the simplest I can put it.

The problem? Skyline's CGI is far too conspicuous. There were a couple of points where it's obvious it's CGI, and it frequently calls attention to itself. This is especially telling considering that the Strause Brothers are VFX experts.

But then again, so was Niell Blomkamp, and the CGI for District 9 is so much better than it was for Skyline. The aliens actually feel real, and it's extremely difficult to tell that they're CGI. It's a real credit to VFX people when the CGI doesn't call attention to itself at all.

So the point, and the match, goes to District 9

Winner: District 9

General Winner: District 9, performing a TKO on Skyline.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Okay, so... First contact stories. What about them?

Well, they generally go into one category: the alien invasion movie. You know, that genre of movie where the aliens come down in their ships and their hyper-advanced technology and their this and their that and the other?

... You know what? I honestly don't care enough about this movie to give it an exciting lead-in.

I'll just get going with today's movie...


Something has descended upon LA in the form of a bunch of wierd blue beams of light sucking people in either to aliens or to flying motherships. Stuck within the same building, it's left up to Jarrod (Eric Balfour), Elaine (Scottie Thompson), and a group of three other survivors who are reeling from heavy partying the night before to survive the alien invasion.

Cue special effects spectacle. This movie does sport some impressive CGI sequences throughout that are actually quite well-done. They create some great action, and it is generally quite fun to watch these special effects...

...or it would be, if the script wasn't as awful as it is.

I'll put it forward simply: this movie has the worst script I have ever seen since I've started reviewing movies: even movies like New Moon have a better script than this piece of crap. How it even got greenlit by Universal, I have no idea. There are too many characters that get killed off like flies throughout the entire movie. This could actually create some tension, if I actually cared about who these people were. I didn't, and so I kept on waving my hand saying "Jesus Christ, get to the next fucking action scene already". The dialogue is incredibly heavy-handed as well, and it's so melodramatic I seriously shook my head in disapproval more than once.

It doesn't help that the plot can be face-palm inducing at a lot of places; all the characters can do incredibly idiotic things, especially when the plot says so. Things happen that are utterly ridiculous, and very few plot points are actually explained, especially in relation to what happens with these blue lights that the aliens use to suck people in. It keeps pulling stuff out of its ass, and the result is a plot that is an absolute mess by the time we get to the end. And the end? It's needlessly dark, and has one of the stupidest plot elements that comes right the fuck out of nowhere. (Even if you're paying attention.) Oh, and by the way movie, tactical nukes do not work like that!

It doesn't help that the acting is atrociously bad. I think there is only one competent actor in the entire movie: everyone else is incapable of portraying more than one emotion at any time. The fact the script gives them almost nothing to work with doesn't help this, but I place greater blame on the actors as they can't even portray fear correctly, which is the one emotion they should be able to get right for something like this. If they can't even get that right, they're in over their heads.

In short, Skyline is a terrible movie. I regret ever spending more than a matinee ticket on this movie, and in a way I wish I could get my eleven dollars back. The script is terrible, the acting is atrocious, and I don't care about any of the characters, thus cheapening the experience. If you want to see this movie (which I don't know why you would want to see anything from the minds behind such masterpieces as Aliens Vs. Predator), do yourself a favor and go see something else.


Skip it.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cloud Cuckoolander Treatise: A Letter to Metroman

Note: Hello, all, and welcome to a new idea for a column I've had. So... the Cloud Cuckloolander Treatise... That is where I go absolutely nuts and allow fridge logic to run free for any movie I've previously reviewed. It won't always make sense, but then again, it won't have to. So I hope you enjoy this new idea I've got.

Warning: The following treatise will contain major spoilers for Megamind as well as a few minor spoilers for the Saw franchise. Read at your own risk.

Dear Metroman,

I firmly and very solidly believe that you had a liaison with Jigsaw at one point before the events of Megamind ever occurred. Why?

Well... one can't help but get the feeling that the entire movie is a gigantic gambit to make Megamind a superhero with his brains and all that stuff. I mean, what with doing stuff that makes Megamind reconsider where he stands, forcing him to take measures to reconstruct his life...?

What, you don't know what I'm talking about? Well, Metroman, you're one sly jokester, faking your own death within a copper dome so you could retire from your superhero life? I don't think you did it because you like music; where is your tour? You've only been hiding under your schoolhouse hideout ever since you "died", after all, growing that beard and drinking ice cubes that haven't melted yet.

Well, at least until Roxeanne and Megamind both found out about your reverie. And then you finally come out...

... to congratulate Megamind on becoming a superhero. No musical numbers (Michael Jackson posthumously took care of that, thanks), no superheroic return, nothing. You're just there to say "good job".

You can pretend that you wanted to be a musician all along, but think about it. You studied under Jigsaw at one point, I imagine.

Think about it; despite being dead for four movies, Jigsaw has still managed to make a presence of himself with Amanda and Hoffman. He was incredibly brilliant; all of his traps were metaphoric representations of their victims, after all. And he perpetuated an idea as well, which is very dangerous when you're referring to him. You learned the art of the Xanatos Gambit from him, no doubt, as you engineered everything based on a principle of your rival's behavior and manipulated it-- much like the way Hoffman got Strahm killed in Saw V.

I do have to give you credit for one thing, though; at least the lesson didn't fly right over the head of the person you were teaching it to. It succeeded with flying colors.

But I take it you had a pleasant time with Jigsaw? If you did, please do tell us all about it.

-Herr Wozzeck

Monday, November 8, 2010


So... DreamWorks. Well, I'll start off by saying that not a whole lot of their work is that original. And it rarely ever takes that many risks with its stories (with the sole exception of the rather excellent How To Train Your Dragon from earlier this year). So naturally, we all tend to think of them as being very much the same.

So when the latest movie comes up, what do you expect? We get more of the same, seeing as how it works for all of us.

But is that an entirely bad thing? Well, let's bring the subject to today's movie:


Megamind (Will Ferrell) is an evil supergenius with a Kryptonian origin story, which also holds true for his rival, Metroman (Brad Pitt). After Megamind's lates scheme to defeat Metroman goes horribly right, however, Megamind finds that being evil without a hero to fight him is boring. So he resolves to do something about it, while wooing reporter Roxanne Ritchie (Tina Fey) as another person and dealing with her cameraman Hal (Jonah Hill).

Okay, so right of the bat, we get the feeling that not a whole lot about this movie is going to be original. We've all seen Superman origins play out, we've seen something very similar to this somewhere before, we know the main character's gonna get the girl at the end, we know it's all gonna have a happy ending...

...but that's besides the point when one constantly gets the feeling that the unoriginality of the whole enterpise is part of the punchline. This movie basically takes all the superhero tropes it can and milks them for all they are worth. The result isn't always successful, but it manages to distract from the fact that nothing is really that original in this movie.

And the studio is also clearly having a lot of fun with playing with such a premise. Will Ferrell and Tina Fey both have a ball with this movie, and it's especially obvious in some of the bigger action set-pieces, in which there's comedy thrown all over the place. As well, it looks really great in the end anyhow, as all the action set-pieces are a joy to watch, even if some of it isn't all that rememberable.

Despite the fact that Megamind isn't all that original, it succeeds thanks to the fact that it plays with almost every bit about it that's unoriginal. It may not be entirely memorable, but it's perfectly harmless entertainment, and you may even have quite a bit of fun with it while you're in the theater.


If you want to go see it, go see it. If you don't want to go see it, don't.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Herr Wozzeck Muses: After the Seventh Day of Sawdom

Warning: This musing will contain spoilers for the entire Saw franchise. Viewer discretion is advised.

I've been providing thoughts about the Saw franchise all throughout my Seven Days of Sawdom retrospective, and it's been quite a ride going through the entire franchise and providing my thoughts on it. My final thoughts are a little mixed; while half of it that's good, the half of it that isn't good isn't really worth remembering, in my opinion. But those that are good are usually pretty good.

But... I've been saving one of my favorite parts of the franchise for this musing. And my favorite part?

Well, it's none of the things I've been mentioning. My favorite part of the franchise is how the traps can serve as a kind of metaphor for their victims.

One thing I've noticed about many of the traps in the franchise is that often the traps will have a fairly metaphorical significance to whoever is participating in them. It tends to get smothered under the extreme levels of gore and the amount of attention paid to the series' overarching mythology, but for those that look, they can find it screaming in their faces.

It's something the series has always had from day one, albeit in a slightly different form: Dr. Gordon in the original movie has to kill Adam because his family is being held hostage; it's a strange way of getting Dr. Gordon to realize what he's been neglecting whenever he goes off to sleep with his secretary. That's the most rudimentary it gets. In Saw II, the entire house trap that the movie is documenting ties into Eric Matthews needing to realize what his son means to him.

Usually, it's often about Jigsaw trying to prove a point to whoever he's testing. It's something that's always been with the franchise; the main games are trying to prove a point to whoever is participating in them. And this was only the start of it: as we ventured later into the franchise and everything got more elaborate, the metaphors began to really kick off, I think.

Let's take the overarching trap of Saw VI, as I think it's one of the best examples of this in the whole franchise given the nature of its traps and the anvillicious nature of it in general. William is the healthcare administrator who denies people necessary health insurance based on a formula of his own devising. Thus, the main traps of Saw VI put that formula to the test. The first game tests William's resolve to live, appropriately pitting him against the janitor of the building who smokes. It's an appropriate start to everything, and sets the mood. The second test is meant to pose to William the question of 'should people be denied their right to live because they've had medical complications in the past' by forcing him to choose between the sick secretary who has a family and the physically well file clerk who has no family. The third trap is meant to show William an example of how far people are willing to go for their right to live, as shown by Debbie's rather violent attempts to attack William with a buzz-saw. The fourth trap is meant to show him how much death his formula can deal by the fact that 2/3rds of all applications are denied thanks to his formula: he must then choose which 1/3rd of his six most reliable staff members will live, and four of them must die. And at the end, he doesn't even get to choose his own fate; the wife and son of someone he denied insurance to based on a previous medical condition get to choose his fate. It's a method of posing the question to their victim about the subject of the previous things.

As I mentioned earlier, it's also present in the rest of the franchise, but the larger traps really start to pick up in Part 3, so I'll run down the metaphorical meanings that I found in each:

Part 3- This I felt is where the theme of forgiveness derived from. All the victims that Jeff has to save are related to the death of his son, and he has to choose whether to forgive them or not. When Jeff gets to Jigsaw, that doesn't end too well.
Part 4- All of the traps of this movie are meant to point out to Detective Rigg that he can't save everyone, and to give him a glimpse into Jigsaw's mind. He tries to do it anyway, but Jigsaw makes it a point that he can only do so much to save people; in the end, Jigsaw feels people must save themselves and Rigg must throw his obsession with saving everyone aside for this reason. And when he fails his ultimate test... it's not pretty.
Part 5- Yes, even the worst installment of the franchise has this metaphorical undertone. All five of the victims of the main trap were involved in a housing fire, and all were involved in it for things that met their own selfish ends. Jigsaw mentions in the opening tape for their games that instinct will tell them to do one thing, but they must do the opposite: this alludes to their selfishness, and that they must do the opposite of self-preservation. Of course, the metaphor is lost on them, so they don't realize that until the very end when they realize that if they had worked together the final trap would be easier.
Part 7- Bobby's lying about being in a Jigsaw trap catches up to him, and in this one Jigsaw puts all of his lessons up to Bobby to test them out. All of them involve his press crew, and at many points the wisdoms given from his book are posed in front of him, usually right before he has to take part in a test. (The only thing this doesn't apply to is the second letter, which serves to point him in the right direction on how to get to the others.) It forces him to take his own medicine, in a way, while also showing how his lies can hurt those around him.

The idea of a death trap serving as a metaphor is honestly one of the strongest things about the Saw franchise in my humble opinion. And there seem to be others that are picking up on it: David Cage implements a similar concept throughout the PS3 game Heavy Rain; wherein main character Ethan Mars has to undergo trials that test his resolve to save his son. Very few of them bring it up to Jigsaw's level of gore, but they're a little more effective for that, I think.

Yes, the traps can often be preposterous, particularly as we go further and further into the depths of the franchise (and especially Part 7; don't get me wrong, those were some pretty good traps, but some of them were absolutely impossible for a rogue detective to pull off). Yes, it can be lost in the gore if it's not heavy handed. But the metaphorical properties of the traps are the most interesting thing to me in the entire Saw franchise.

And I think it's something worth thinking about.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews, finally hoping to put Jigsaw to rest. It's been a hell of a ride with the series, and I'll see you guys next time.