(Photo by Lionsgate)

One of the defining images of 2000’s horror cinema was a severed foot on a movie poster. The ingeniously simple poster for Saw (2004) is iconic because of its ability to condense the theme of the James Wan-directed film into a single image that spoke volumes to the audience. With the promise of foot mutilation, audiences flocked to the cinema in 2004 and the $1.5 million-budgeted horror movie pulled in $103 million worldwide. Game started! Nineteen years and eight sequels later, the Saw franchise now continues its run with Saw X, a prequel that takes place between Saw (2004) and Saw II (2006).

The interesting-but-unsurprising thing about Saw X is that it follows in the footsteps of the 2004 original and features a limb being sawed off (no more spoilers here). It’s interesting because it’s not afraid to draw comparisons to the most iconic film in the franchise; it’s not surprising because Saw X is a promising return to basics — which means a return to saws.

You’d think that a film series named after a hand tool would go heavier on actual sawing, but, the franchise in general hasn’t actually featured a lot of, well, sawing since 2004. In fact, after the first film, saws played a largely ancillary role in the series.

Nevertheless, we did a little research, and it turns out the style and amount of saw action can actually factor into how good a Saw movie might be. Here’s what we found.


Saw Films in Which Something Is Sawed Off Completely

Cary Elwes in Saw (2004)

(Photo by ©Lionsgate)

Tomatometer Average: 65%
Audience Score Average: 87%
Films: Saw (2004), Saw X (2023)

It’s notable that the only Saw films to feature an appendage being entirely cut off by a saw are Saw and Saw X. They are the two highest-rated films in the series according to the Tomatometer, and they currently bookend the franchise. It makes sense that it took 19 years to feature another limb being sawed off because the creators of the sequels wisely realized that they couldn’t recreate the feeling of watching a chalk-white Cary Elwes use an unsanitary hacksaw to hack off his foot inside a dirty prison bathroom. The scene isn’t all that graphic, and it only takes up 12 seconds of screen time, but the simplicity and urgency of the setup have helped it linger in the memory of millions of people around the world. There are much gorier moments in the franchise, but they are nowhere near as effective or memorable, because aside from 127 Hours, there aren’t many films that build towards a person becoming so desperate they willingly remove an arm or leg.

As far as narrative impact, the scene is arguably the high point of the series, and it serves as a reminder of the patience and planning that director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell dedicated to the film. What sets the first Saw apart from the eight sequels that followed is that Wan and Whannell, who didn’t direct any of the follow-ups, thought they were making a thriller in the vein of Seven. For better or worse, the marketing department latched onto the iconic torture element, and the rest is history.


Saw Films with Sawing/Sawing Attempts That Don’t Result in Death

Julie Benz in Saw V (2008)

(Photo by ©Lionsgate)

Tomatometer Average: 42.1%
Audience Score Average: 72.5%
Films: Saw (2004), Saw III (2006), Saw V (2008), Saw VI (2009), Jigsaw (2017), Saw X (2023)

One of the most stressful moments in the Saw franchise happens in Saw III when Dr. Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) performs an improvised surgery on John Kramer (Tobin Bell). During the successful operation to relieve the pressure on Kramer’s brain, Denlon uses a scalpel, drill, and circular saw to cut out a chunk of his skull. The scene is a welcome reminder that saws aren’t always the villain — and can have practical uses that don’t involve removing a foot. Maybe after the first movie, the public relations team at Big Saw asked the creators to at least show one positive benefit of the tool.

Saws are used more nefariously in Saw, Saw V, Saw VI, Jigsaw, and Saw X. In Saw VI, William Easton (Peter Outerbridge) is attacked with a buzzsaw, and in Saw V, Brit (Julie Benz) and Mallick (Greg Byrk) saw into their hands to collect blood during a game. When it comes to the amount of sheer carnage, Jigsaw wins easily, as the opening game features five people being sliced, and later, Anna (Laura Vandervoort) and Mitch (Mandela Van Peebles) are terrorized by falling saw blades while trapped inside a grain silo. There’s also a scene in which Kramer is working on a saw trap while talking to two victims who had their arms slashed by a saw earlier in the movie. It’s a lot.

None of these moments are as iconic as the original, of course, but they deserve credit for introducing saws or saw blades in inventive and non-fatal ways.


Saw Films Featuring the Hacksaw from the First Film

Leigh Whannell in Saw (2004)

(Photo by ©Lionsgate)

Tomatometer Average: 31.6%
Audience Score Average: 68.8%
Films: Saw (2004), Saw II (2005), Saw III (2006), Saw: The Final Chapter aka Saw 3D(2009), Jigsaw (2017)

Here’s some movie trivia for you. In the original Saw, there were two hacksaws in the dirty bathroom prison, but one of them was broken when Adam (Leigh Whannell) started sawing into his metal chains. Consequently, the remaining hacksaw gets a lot of mileage in the series.

It pops up in Saw, Saw II, Saw III, Saw: The Final Chapter, and Jigsaw. Throughout the five films, it was used to saw off Gordon’s foot and slit a character’s throat, ultimately to be reunited with Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Elwes) in The Final Chapter. In Jigsaw, It’s only seen briefly in Eleanor Bonneville’s (Hannah Emily Anderson) shrine, but it’s a fun Easter egg and actually raises a lot of questions about how Eleanor got a hold of it in the first place.

While the hacksaw usage in Saw can’t be matched, the second-best occurrence happens in Saw III, when detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) briefly considers using it to cut off his foot when he’s trapped in the dirty bathroom prison. In a moment of creativity, he ditches it and chooses to break all the bones in his ankle and feet to get free from his chains. It’s a tough moment that still manages to make the audience squirm in new and unexpected ways.

The saw is proof of the series’ ability to intertwine its narrative and tie everything together via an intricate timeline.


Saw Films in Which a Saw Kills Somebody

Tomatometer Average: 39.5%
Audience Score Average: 65.25%
Films: Saw II (2005), Saw III (2006), Saw: The Final Chapter (2010), Saw X (2023)

Saws are surprisingly non-lethal in the Saw films. In fact, only four of the 109 deaths in the franchise are caused by saws of any type. However, it’s pretty great that John Kramer was killed by a power saw used by Jeff Denlon (Angus Macfadyen), the husband of Lynn Denlon, who earlier in the movie saved Kramer’s life — with a saw. It’s proof that the people who oversaw the franchise had a plan (or a sense of humor) and knew how to tie everything together. This case is also built when Daniel (Erik Knudsen) kills Xavier (Franky G) in Saw II with most likely the same hacksaw that his dad throws aside in Saw III. If only Detective Matthews was killed with a saw and not two ice blocks, then we’d really have some next-level storytelling.

The circular nature of the series is one of its strongest points, so it’s too bad the circular saw scene in Saw: The Final Chapter isn’t great, existing solely for some 3D nonsense involving throwaway characters. Poor Dina (Anne Greene).


Saw Films in Which a Saw Is Used on Jigsaw

Angus McFadyen in Saw III (2006)

(Photo by ©Lionsgate)

Tomatometer Average: 22.5%
Audience Score Average: 64%
Films: Saw III (2006), Saw IV (2007)

John Kramer, aka Jigsaw, was the glue that held the films together, and after his aforementioned murder (by saw) in the third installment, the audience was greeted by his autopsy in the early scenes of Saw IV. Sure, he’s already dead in the latter instance, but did the coroners use a saw on him? They sure did.

The good news is that John is back in Saw X. We should all be happy that the Saw franchise has a timeline to make Christopher Nolan jealous because the flashbacks, prequels, and sequels make sure the iconic villain can always pop up again in some form or another. What’s your favorite Saw franchise moment that features a saw? Let us know in the comments.


Saw X is currently in theaters.

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Wild

(Photo by Lionsgate/ courtesy Everett Collection)

All Saw Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer 

Saw came, Saw conquered, Saw…stuck around for a lot longer people were expecting. The franchise that popularized the torturous trend in mid-2000s horror arguably peaked early with critics: The original 2004 movie is half-appreciated for hardening the genre and for its infamous twist ending, and half-detested for its empty obsession with gristle, gore, and guts. But audiences lapped up the visceral thrills, and after the first sequel ramped up the pain and plot twists to box office highs, a franchise was born.

With part III, the story went full Search for Spock and pulled off the Saw equivalent of blowing up the Enterprise: It killed off its main malevolent villain, Jigsaw. But ol’ Jiggy is nothing if not meticulous, and was able to continue his warped games of moral vengeance from beyond the grave (not to mention with continuing appearances from fan-favorite Tobin Bell) for several more sequels. But by the seventh Saw, the mythology had become too complicated and the grosses (the money kind) were trending downwards; Saw 3D was ordered to cram several movies’ worth of plot into one whip-lashing finale.

After seven years, the series returned in 2017 with Jigsaw, which enjoyed a critical response that was about as sparkling as could be expected based on previous encounters. But the box office appeared encouraging enough to continue on for a ninth entry. Spiral: From the Book of Saw, a standalone entry starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, released after a year-long delay caused by COVID. Now that was scary, eh, folks?

And who saw this coming: dish #10 is the highest-rated of the entire franchise. See Saw X and more on our Tomatometer ranking of the Saw series. Alex Vo

#1

Saw X (2023)
80%

#1
Adjusted Score: 88119%
Critics Consensus: Led by a franchise-best performance from Tobin Bell, Saw X reinvigorates the series with an installment that has a surprising amount of heart to go with all the gore.
Synopsis: John Kramer (Tobin Bell) is back. The most chilling installment of the SAW franchise yet explores the untold chapter of... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Greutert

#2

Saw (2004)
50%

#2
Adjusted Score: 56308%
Critics Consensus: Saw ensnares audiences with a deceptively clever plot and a myriad of memorable, nasty set pieces, but its lofty ambitions are undercut by a nihilistic streak that feels more mean than profound.
Synopsis: Photographer Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) and oncologist Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) regain consciousness while chained to pipes at either end... [More]
Directed By: James Wan

#3

Saw VI (2009)
39%

#3
Adjusted Score: 41342%
Critics Consensus: It won't earn the franchise many new fans, but Saw VI is a surprising step up for what has become an intricately grisly annual tradition.
Synopsis: With Jigsaw still directing events from beyond the grave, Hoffman emerges as the heir to the killer's twisted legacy. But... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Greutert

#4
Adjusted Score: 48488%
Critics Consensus: Spiral: From the Book of Saw suggests an interesting new direction for the Saw franchise, even if the gory sum is rather less than its parts.
Synopsis: A criminal mastermind unleashes a twisted form of justice in Spiral, the terrifying new chapter from the book of Saw.... [More]
Directed By: Darren Bousman

#5

Saw II (2005)
37%

#5
Adjusted Score: 41227%
Critics Consensus: Saw II is likely to please the gore-happy fans of the original, though it may be too gruesome for those not familiar with first film's premise.
Synopsis: On the hunt for the twisted vigilante and serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) and his... [More]
Directed By: Darren Bousman

#6

Jigsaw (2017)
32%

#6
Adjusted Score: 36153%
Critics Consensus: Jigsaw definitely won't win many converts to the Saw franchise, but for longtime fans, it should prove a respectably revolting -- if rarely scary -- diversion.
Synopsis: After a series of murders bearing all the markings of the Jigsaw killer, law enforcement officials find themselves chasing the... [More]

#7

Saw III (2006)
29%

#7
Adjusted Score: 32350%
Critics Consensus: Saw III does little beyond repeating its predecessor's tropes on a gorier level.
Synopsis: Dr. Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) becomes a pawn in the Jigsaw Killer's (Tobin Bell) latest gory game. Kidnapped and taken... [More]
Directed By: Darren Bousman

#8

Saw IV (2007)
18%

#8
Adjusted Score: 20736%
Critics Consensus: Saw IV is more disturbing than compelling, with material already seen in the prior installments.
Synopsis: During the autopsy of serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), a cassette tape is discovered in his stomach in which he... [More]
Directed By: Darren Bousman

#9

Saw V (2008)
13%

#9
Adjusted Score: 15467%
Critics Consensus: If its plot were as interesting as its torture devices, or its violence less painful than its performances, perhaps Saw V might not feel like it was running on fumes.
Synopsis: As the apparently last disciple and heir apparent of Jigsaw, Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) goes on the hunt to protect his... [More]
Directed By: David Hackl

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 11678%
Critics Consensus: Sloppily filmed, poorly acted, and illogically plotted, Saw 3D leaves viewers trapped in the most lackluster installment of the series.
Synopsis: As a fierce battle rages over Jigsaw's (Tobin Bell) terrible legacy, survivors seek support from a fellow survivor and self-help... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Greutert

Wild

(Photo by New Line/ courtesy Everett Collection)

All Ian McKellen Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer

Despite his prodigious presence in the world of acting, Ian McKellen didn’t start appearing on-screen in earnest until his mid-40s, during the 1980s. Things kicked off with 1983’s The Keep, Michael Mann’s hard-to-find WWII fantasy-thriller, with subsequent highlights including early Will Smith drama Six Degrees of Separation, a 1930s-set adaptation of Richard III, and an appearance as Death in Last Action Hero, putting that theater gravitas to good use in a decidedly bad flick.

His Oscar nomination for portraying director James Whale in 1998’s Gods and Monsters brought him to international prominence, setting the stage for one of the great career turns in movie history. In 2000, McKellen became one of comic books’ greatest villains, Magneto, in X-Men. He wouldn’t re-appear until the following year, as one of fantasy’s greatest heroes: Gandalf in 2001’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The two roles would keep McKellen sustained for the next decade and beyond, across three more X-Men movies and five more entries nestled within Middle-Earth.

Playing the legendary detective in Mr. Holmes and putting in his time as Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast are more notable recent works, along with more theater adaptations like The Dresser (opposite Anthony Hopkins, both delivering some career-best performances), as well as, er, Cats. At least he knew the nightmare cinematic hairball that was being coughed up! And now, you shall not pass until we rank all Ian McKellen movies by Tomatometer! Alex Vo

#40

Doogal (2006)
8%

#40
Adjusted Score: 9198%
Critics Consensus: Overloaded with pop culture references, but lacking in compelling characters and plot, Doogal is too simpleminded even for the kiddies.
Synopsis: Florence and her animal friends live in the Enchanted Village, which is under the care of Zebedee, a kindly wizard.... [More]

#39

Neverwas (2005)
14%

#39
Adjusted Score: 4131%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Dr. Zach Riley (Aaron Eckhart) begins practicing at the Millwood Psychiatric Clinic -- a mental health retreat where his deceased... [More]
Directed By: Joshua Michael Stern

#38

Cats (2019)
19%

#38
Adjusted Score: 36646%
Critics Consensus: Despite its fur-midable cast, this Cats adaptation is a clawful mistake that will leave most viewers begging to be put out of their mew-sery.
Synopsis: A tribe of cats must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a... [More]
Directed By: Tom Hooper

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 34578%
Critics Consensus: What makes Dan Brown's novel a best seller is evidently not present in this dull and bloated movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code.
Synopsis: A murder in Paris' Louvre Museum and cryptic clues in some of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous paintings lead to... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 28404%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Amy (Rachel Weisz), a maid in the house of wealthy Miss Swaffer (Kathy Bates), falls for a Russian stranger named... [More]
Directed By: Beeban Kidron

#35

The Shadow (1994)
37%

#35
Adjusted Score: 40335%
Critics Consensus: Bringing a classic pulp character to the big screen, The Shadow features impressive visual effects, but the story ultimately fails to strike a memorable chord.
Synopsis: Set in 1930s New York, a reformed criminal becomes a superhero. With the aid of a beautiful female friend, a... [More]
Directed By: Russell Mulcahy

#34

Asylum (2005)
36%

#34
Adjusted Score: 38836%
Critics Consensus: This catastrophic adaptation of Patrick McGrath's novel gets sillier and more implausible as it goes along.
Synopsis: An administrator's bored wife (Natasha Richardson) begins a torrid affair with an institutionalized artist (Marton Csokas) who beat his wife... [More]
Directed By: David Mackenzie

#33

The Keep (1983)
39%

#33
Adjusted Score: 40090%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A stranger (Scott Glenn) fights timeless evil in a Romanian castle occupied by a Nazi captain (Jürgen Prochnow).... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#32

Last Action Hero (1993)
42%

#32
Adjusted Score: 46959%
Critics Consensus: Last Action Hero has most of the right ingredients for a big-budget action spoof, but its scattershot tone and uneven structure only add up to a confused, chaotic mess.
Synopsis: Following the death of his father, young Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien) takes comfort in watching action movies featuring the indestructible... [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 49718%
Critics Consensus: Without the bite or the controversy of the source material, The Golden Compass is reduced to impressive visuals overcompensating for lax storytelling.
Synopsis: Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) lives in a parallel world in which human souls take the form of lifelong animal... [More]
Directed By: Chris Weitz

#30

Apt Pupil (1998)
54%

#30
Adjusted Score: 56920%
Critics Consensus: A somewhat disturbing movie that works as a suspenseful thriller, yet isn't completely satisfying.
Synopsis: A high-school student (Brad Renfro) forms an unhealthy relationship with a former Nazi death-camp officer (Ian McKellen).... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#29

Emile (2003)
57%

#29
Adjusted Score: 52220%
Critics Consensus: Emile benefits from a typically outstanding Ian McKellen performance, but a frustratingly circuitous approach undercuts the effectiveness of a potentially affecting story.
Synopsis: Emile (Ian McKellen), a retired professor, returns to his Canadian hometown to receive an award after decades of living in... [More]
Directed By: Carl Bessai

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 66991%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: The Last Stand provides plenty of mutant action for fans of the franchise, even if it does so at the expense of its predecessors' deeper character moments.
Synopsis: The discovery of a cure for mutations leads to a turning point for Mutants (Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen,... [More]
Directed By: Brett Ratner

#27
Adjusted Score: 71661%
Critics Consensus: Though somewhat overwhelmed by its own spectacle, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ends Peter Jackson's second Middle-earth trilogy on a reasonably satisfying note.
Synopsis: Having reclaimed Erebor and vast treasure from the dragon Smaug, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) sacrifices friendship and honor in seeking... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#26

The Good Liar (2019)
64%

#26
Adjusted Score: 72240%
Critics Consensus: The Good Liar is less than the sum of its prestigious parts, but Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren keep the proceedings consistently watchable.
Synopsis: Career con artist Roy Courtnay can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish online. As Betty... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#25

Animal Crackers (2017)
64%

#25
Adjusted Score: 64288%
Critics Consensus: Animal Crackers is far from the most distinctive animated fare, but its wacky humor and zippy speed make it a decent diversion for younger viewers.
Synopsis: A family uses its magical box of animal crackers to help save a circus.... [More]

#24
Adjusted Score: 78725%
Critics Consensus: Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth is an earnest, visually resplendent trip, but the film's deliberate pace robs the material of some of its majesty.
Synopsis: Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) lives a simple life with his fellow hobbits in the shire, until the wizard Gandalf (Ian... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#23

Restoration (1995)
71%

#23
Adjusted Score: 72965%
Critics Consensus: Restoration spins an engaging period yarn out of its bestselling source material, brought to life through the efforts of an eclectic ensemble cast led by Robert Downey Jr.
Synopsis: In order to keep one of his mistresses, Celia (Polly Walker), at arm's length, King Charles II (Sam Neill) asks... [More]
Directed By: Michael Hoffman

#22

All Is True (2018)
72%

#22
Adjusted Score: 79378%
Critics Consensus: Impressively cast and beautifully filmed, All Is True takes an elegiac look at Shakespeare's final days.
Synopsis: The year is 1613, and Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 92429%
Critics Consensus: With an enchanting cast, beautifully crafted songs, and a painterly eye for detail, Beauty and the Beast offers a faithful yet fresh retelling that honors its beloved source material.
Synopsis: Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#20

Bent (1997)
72%

#20
Adjusted Score: 72950%
Critics Consensus: Bent juggles heavy topics with style, though its heavy-handedness at times feels more like exploitation than exploration.
Synopsis: In 1930s Berlin, homosexual Max (Clive Owen) sleeps with German officer Wolf (Nikolaj Waldau), only to see him killed by... [More]
Directed By: Sean Mathias

#19

Flushed Away (2006)
73%

#19
Adjusted Score: 78365%
Critics Consensus: Clever and appealing for both children and adults, Flushed Away marks a successful entry into digital animated features for Aardman Animations.
Synopsis: After an ignoble landing in Ratropolis, a pampered rodent (Hugh Jackman) enlists the help of a sewer scavenger (Kate Winslet)... [More]
Directed By: David Bowers, Sam Fell

#18

Jack & Sarah (1995)
74%

#18
Adjusted Score: 74610%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After his wife, Sarah (Imogen Stubbs), dies during childbirth, Jack (Richard E. Grant), an attorney, has his world thrown into... [More]
Directed By: Tim Sullivan

#17
Adjusted Score: 86673%
Critics Consensus: While still slightly hamstrung by "middle chapter" narrative problems and its formidable length, The Desolation of Smaug represents a more confident, exciting second chapter for the Hobbit series.
Synopsis: Having survived the first part of their unsettling journey, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his companions (Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage)... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 81742%
Critics Consensus: It sometimes moseys when it should have galloped, but The Ballad of Little Jo entertainingly upends genre formula while simultaneously highlighting its strengths.
Synopsis: After becoming pregnant outside marriage, Josephine (Suzy Amis) is thrown out by her embarrassed upper-class family. With no money, she... [More]
Directed By: Maggie Greenwald

#15

Stardust (2007)
77%

#15
Adjusted Score: 84808%
Critics Consensus: A faithful interpretation that captures the spirit of whimsy, action, and off-kilter humor of Neil Gaiman, Stardust juggles multiple genres and tones to create a fantastical experience.
Synopsis: To win the heart of his beloved (Sienna Miller), a young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) ventures into the realm... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#14

X-Men (2000)
82%

#14
Adjusted Score: 89050%
Critics Consensus: Faithful to the comics and filled with action, X-Men brings a crowded slate of classic Marvel characters to the screen with a talented ensemble cast and surprisingly sharp narrative focus.
Synopsis: They are children of the atom, homo superior, the next link in the chain of evolution. Each was born with... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 85388%
Critics Consensus: Cold Comfort Farm sends up high-minded classics with a wit and impressive restraint that rivals its inspirations.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of the satirical British novel, Flora Poste (Kate Beckinsale), a plucky London society girl orphaned at age... [More]
Directed By: John Schlesinger

#12

X2 (2003)
85%

#12
Adjusted Score: 93913%
Critics Consensus: Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor -- and a benchmark for comic sequels in general.
Synopsis: Stryker (Brian Cox), a villianous former Army commander, holds the key to Wolverine's (Hugh Jackman) past and the future of... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 90683%
Critics Consensus: Though it betrays its theatrical roots, Six Degrees of Separation largely succeeds thanks to astute direction and fine performances -- particularly from an against-type Will Smith.
Synopsis: Privileged art dealers Flan (Donald Sutherland) and Ouisa (Stockard Channing) are hosting a dinner party when Paul (Will Smith), a... [More]
Directed By: Fred Schepisi

#10

Mr. Holmes (2015)
88%

#10
Adjusted Score: 96721%
Critics Consensus: Mr. Holmes focuses on the man behind the mysteries, and while it may lack Baker Street thrills, it more than compensates with tenderly wrought, well-acted drama.
Synopsis: Long-retired and near the end of his life, Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) grapples with an unreliable memory and must rely... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#9
Adjusted Score: 106102%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfyingly fast-paced outing that ranks among the franchise's finest installments.
Synopsis: Convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) develops the Sentinels, enormous robotic weapons that... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#8

Scandal (1989)
88%

#8
Adjusted Score: 90455%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Stephen Ward (John Hurt) regularly employs attractive young women as professional party guests to impress his influential friends in the... [More]
Directed By: Michael Caton-Jones

#7
Adjusted Score: 100803%
Critics Consensus: Full of eye-popping special effects, and featuring a pitch-perfect cast, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brings J.R.R. Tolkien's classic to vivid life.
Synopsis: The future of civilization rests in the fate of the One Ring, which has been lost for centuries. Powerful forces... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#6
Adjusted Score: 104193%
Critics Consensus: Visually breathtaking and emotionally powerful, The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King is a moving and satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy.
Synopsis: The culmination of nearly 10 years' work and conclusion to Peter Jackson's epic trilogy based on the timeless J.R.R. Tolkien... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 99970%
Critics Consensus: Gods and Monsters is a spellbinding, confusing piece of semi-fiction, featuring fine performances; McKellen leads the way, but Redgrave and Fraser don't lag far behind.
Synopsis: Once a powerful Hollywood director best known for "Frankenstein" and "The Bride of Frankenstein," James Whale (Ian McKellen) is long... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#4
Adjusted Score: 104081%
Critics Consensus: The Two Towers balances spectacular action with emotional storytelling, leaving audiences both wholly satisfied and eager for the final chapter.
Synopsis: The sequel to the Golden Globe-nominated and AFI Award-winning "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," "The... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#3

Richard III (1995)
96%

#3
Adjusted Score: 99320%
Critics Consensus: This re-imagining of Shakespeare's Crookback King relocates the story in 1930 and features an indelible star turn for Ian McKellen as the monstrous and magnetic King Richard.
Synopsis: A murderous lust for the British throne sees Richard III (Ian McKellen) descend into madness. Though the setting is transposed... [More]
Directed By: Richard Loncraine

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 100300%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1981, epidemiologist Don Francis (Matthew Modine) learns of an increased rate of death among gay men in urban areas.... [More]
Directed By: Roger Spottiswoode

#1

The Dresser (2015)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 73170%
Critics Consensus: The Dresser brilliantly showcases two of the most gifted actors of their generation within a thoughtful, well-executed production offering intelligent commentary on the human condition.
Synopsis: In a touring Shakespearean theatre company, backstage hand Norman is devoted to the brilliant but tyrannical head of the company,... [More]
Directed By: Richard Eyre

This week’s Ketchup brings you another ten headlines from the world of film development news (those stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next). Included in the mix this time around are stories about such titles as Frankenstein, Pokemon, Wonder Woman, and the eighth movie in the Saw franchise.


This Week’s Top Story

HOLLYWOOD HUNTING FOR POKEMON GO RIGHTS

This week’s biggest story in film development news is actually a continuation of something that started in April. At that time, the idea of Legendary Entertainment getting close to acquiring the live-action Pokemon rights could have been interpreted as Legendary looking for their next video game adaptation following the (presumed) success of WarcraftWarcraft had a huge opening in China, and has earned $430 million globally (enough for Warcraft to make in the top 10 for the year, thus far), but it was also a flop critically, and in the USA. However, one week sure can change things. The “augmented reality” game Pokemon Go launched just nine days ago (7/6/16), but within a week, the game had almost as many daily active users as Twitter (!). Nintendo’s stock price subsequently jumped up 25%, (seemingly), instantly increasing the company’s value by an additional $9 billion. So, Hollywood is very much now interested in a live action Pokemon reboot, and Legendary Pictures is looking like they were ahead of the curve, considering that their talks started three months before Pokemon Go even launched. The other two studios that had been vying for the Pokemon rights were Warner Bros and Sony Pictures, but it looks like Legendary is very close to sealing the deal. It’s still unclear what approach the live-action Pokemon remake might take, but loosely, there seem like two main options: Legendary could stick closely to the traditional Pokemon lore, or they could go with a direct adaptation of Pokemon Go, perhaps following people hunting for Pokemon in the real world. If the rumors are true, the screenwriter who might have the job of figuring it out is Max Landis (American Ultra, Victor Frankenstein), whose only Fresh Tomatometer score thus far was for Chronicle.


Fresh Developments This Week

1. OSCAR ISAAC JOINS SPIELBERG’S THE KIDNAPPING OF EDGARDO MONTARA

Most of the attention on future Steven Spielberg movies this year has been on his adaptation of Ready Player One. However, the prolific director is rarely working on just “one movie” at any given time. Right now, another impending project is an adaptation of the bestselling non-fiction book The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara by David Kertzer, which relays the true story of a Jewish child (born in Italy) who was seized by the Catholic Church in the mid-19th century, then converted to Catholicism and went on to become a priest. The central figure on the church side of the controversy will be Pope Pius IX, who will be played by Mark Rylance, marking his fourth Spielberg film in a row (after Bridge of Spies, The BFG, and Ready Player One). It is as yet unknown what role Oscar Isaac (who is now in talks) will be playing, but since some sources have pointed to him as “the lead,” the obvious answer would be Edgardo Mortara himself. The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara is expected to start filming in early 2017 — Ready Player One is scheduled for release on March 30, 2018, so the earliest possible release window for TKoEM is probably late 2018, AKA “awards season.”


2. JAVIER BARDEM TO BE RESURRECTED AS UNIVERSAL’S FRANKENSTEIN (‘S MONSTER)

We’ve known for a few years now that Universal Pictures wants to build a new “cinematic universe” around reboots of their Universal Monsters. The first of these will be another reboot of The Mummy, set in the present day (to be released next summer, on June 9, 2017); its titular monster will be female this time, played by Kingsman: The Secret Service costar Sofia Boutella, and this week, the Internet was deluged by nearly 100 images of Boutella in “Mummy” costumes from filming on location. The non-Mummy star of that movie will be Tom Cruise, and recent months have brought news of other A-list stars who will costar. Russell Crowe will play a character similar to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Johnny Depp will star in The Invisible Man in early 2018. As noted in this article, Universal Pictures seems to be focusing on casting actors in their 50s. Javier Bardem (Skyfall, No Country for Old Men) isn’t quite 50 yet, but he’s close (his 50th birthday will be on March 1st, 2019), and this week we learned that he is now in talks with Universal Pictures to star in their new monster movies as Frankenstein. Specifically, Bardem is not up for the role Frankenstein himself, but rather the monster that Dr. Victor Frankenstein creates. There have been rumors that Angelina Jolie will star in a Bride of Frankenstein movie, and this news fits right in with that, because Bardem is not expected to debut in a Frankenstein movie, but one of the earlier UMCU (Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe) movies. The Mummy is nearly done filming, so it probably won’t be that film, but the next possibility might be The Invisible Man (TBA 2018). Russell Crowe’s Jekyll/Hyde-like character is also expected to appear in other UCMU movies before receiving his own feature.


3. BALLET STAR MISTY COPELAND TO DANCE IN DISNEY’S THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS

One of the many films that Walt Disney Pictures is adapting into live action from their classic animated filmography actually comes from one part of a film, the 1940 classic Fantasia. Specifically, we’re talking about The Nutcracker Suite, which was based on the ballet with music written by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Disney’s movie will be called The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and it will be based on both Tchaikovsky’s ballet as well as the 1816 fairy tale story by E.T.A. Hoffmann called  The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which the ballet was itself based upon. So, since Disney’s new Nutcracker movie is ultimately based on a ballet, this week’s news probably should have been a complete no-brainer. Ballet dancer Misty Copeland took to her Instagram account this week to post an image of the script by Ashleigh Powell (who will be making her feature film debut with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms), confirming that she will star in the adaptation. Copeland is the first cast member we have heard about, but she won’t be the last, as the various versions of The Nutcracker have a lot of characters, including the Nutcracker himself, the Mouse King (and Queen), the Sugar Plum Fairy, and of course, the large family at the center of the entire story. This magical adventure will be directed by Lasse Hallstrom, whose lengthy filmography includes What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolate, The Cider House Rules, and My Life as a Dog. There is no release date officially set for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, but given the Christmas theme, there is a very, very strong chance that it is the Untitled Disney Fairy Tale (Live Action) currently on their schedule for November 2, 2018.


4. ZENDAYA TO TRAPEZE SWING OVER HUGH JACKMAN IN THE GREATEST SHOWMAN ON EARTH

One of the most ambitious non-superhero movies that Hugh Jackman has been attached to star in for several years now (since 2009) is 20th Century Fox’s The Greatest Showman on Earth. As the title suggests, this film (scheduled for 12/25/17) will be a biographical musical drama about the life of 19th century circus entrepreneur P.T. Barnum, who, of course, will be played by Jackman (who’s also producing). In recent weeks, we’ve heard about the casting of both Zac Efron (as Barnum’s “right hand man”), and Michelle Williams (as Barnum’s romantic interest). This week, we learned that Fox is hoping to attract a young audience with the news that former Disney star Zendaya is now in talks to play a trapeze artist in Barnum’s circus. The Greatest Showman on Earth will be the feature film directorial debut of Michael Gracey (who is working on an adaptation of the manga/video game Naruto), working from a script by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3; cowriter of Star Wars: The Force Awakens). 20th Century Fox has scheduled The Greatest Showman on Earth for December 25th, by which point the world will probably be much more familiar with Zendaya, due to her reportedly major role in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7, 2017).


5. DISNEY DEVELOPING ANOTHER PROJECT WITH FINDING DORY STAR ELLEN DEGENERES

One can argue lots of other factors at play here, but the facts are plain: Finding Dory is Pixar’s top box office earner to date, and Finding Nemo was no slouch either, now at #4 out of 17 films. One arguable factor in both films was the voice talent of Ellen DeGeneres, without whom Dory wouldn’t really be the Dory that audiences (and critics) have come to love. Knowing a good thing when they have it, Walt Disney Pictures is striving to continue working with Ellen DeGeneres on (at least) one future project, namely an adaptation of the children’s book Castle Hangnail, by author Ursula Vernon, the creator of the Dragonbreath series. The book will be adapted by Bill Kunstler, who is best known for his work as a writer and producer on TV shows like Mom, The Crazy Ones, The War at Home, and Accidentally on PurposeCastle Hangnail is about a 12-year-old girl who shows up at the title location hoping to fill a vacancy as a “wicked witch,” and to do so, she must accomplish a series of tasks. Ellen DeGeneres is producing Castle Hangnail, and is likely to star in the film, but which character she would play is unknown.


6. CHIWETEL EJIOFOR TO PLAY ST. PETER IN MARY MAGDALENE

The story of Jesus Christ is often called “the greatest story ever told” for a reason, and Hollywood seems intent on retelling it again and again; this year alone, we’ve already had two movies about Him — Last Days in the Desert (with Ewan McGregor as Jesus) and Risen (with Cliff Curtis as “Yeshua”, AKA Jesus) — and they keep coming. The next project to tackle the tale will focus on His companion, Mary Magdalene. We’ve known for a while now that Rooney Mara (Carol, The Social Network) will star in the film as the title character, with Joaquin Phoenix taking on the role of Christ. This week, we learned that Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) is now in talks to play St. Peter, one of Christ’s 12 apostles. In many films about Jesus Christ, not all of the apostles receive the same amount of attention in the story, but St. Peter (AKA “The Rock”) is usually one of the most central figures. Director Garth Davis, whose debut film is this year’s Lion, expects to start filming Mary Magdalene this summer for the Weinstein Company, who are expecting to release Mary Magdalene sometime in 2017 (possibly around Easter).


7. COLIN FARRELL TO STAR IN REMAKE OF CLINT EASTWOOD’S THE BEGUILED

Today’s release of the remake of Ghostbusters has brought into the spotlight the social debate over remakes, and whether some older films should or shouldn’t ever be remade, rebooted, regurgitated, etc. One thing to remember is that Hollywood’s been doing it since the “silent era,” and some of our most beloved movies (like say, The Wizard of Oz, The Thing, Scarface, The Magnificent Seven, and The Ten Commandments) were themselves remakes of earlier films. Some pundits make the argument that the best candidates for remakes are films that were either flawed in some way, or that technology has improved to tell certain stories more effectively, or in some cases, that the original is just so obscure or forgotten that most wouldn’t even recognize a remake of it. Option #3 feels the most relevant to this week’s news, because few moviegoers have likely even heard of the 1971 film The Beguiled, starring Clint Eastwood as a wounded Union soldier during the Civil War. Director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette) apparently has, however, because she has written and will direct a remake of The Beguiled. Colin Farrell is now in talks to star as the soldier, who takes refuge at an all-girls boarding school and “cons his way into several lonely women’s hearts.” Farrell is joining a mostly female cast which already includes Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning. There is no filming start date for The Beguiled yet, but if financing can be found, there’s a good chance it will be Sofia Coppola’s next film (after departing the live action non-Disney remake of The Little Mermaid).


Rotten IdeaS of The Week

2. THE WRITERS OF WONDER WOMAN… ARE ALL MEN?

When Warner Bros and DC Comics were looking for a director for next summer’s Wonder Woman (6/2/17), it was clear they were looking for a female director. The job ultimately went to Monster director Patty Jenkins, after Breaking Bad producer/director Michelle MacLaren worked on it for a while, but eventually dropped out. Arguments can be made about whether gender identity plays a role in filmmaking, but WB’s efforts to cast a female director suggests they were at least attempting to match it up. That’s why it’s particularly confusing and/or confounding to learn that the official screenwriter credits are for “a screenplay by Allan Heinberg and Geoff Johns, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg.” In other words, Wonder Woman was written entirely by men. Of course, Wonder Woman was created by a man, and a rather controversial male writer at that, about whom much as been written. That was, however, also in 1941, and one might assume that 75 years later, things might be different. This would also be a good time to note that we are aware of the super relevant (but probably coincidental) timing of this story, which we’re reporting to you on the day that the reboot of Ghostbusters is being released (and all of the gender politics that come with it, from both sides). We’ll just point you to some other articles about this issue, published by The Verge, The Mary Sue, and Romper. What do you think? Should the first ever live action movie about the original female super hero icon have been written by at least one woman?


1. SOME “ROTTEN” FRANCHISES JUST DON’T KNOW WHEN TO DIE: SAW #8 COMING IN 2017

People like familiar franchises that provide sequels with familiar expectations; we get that. But some franchises fail to transcend their very niche audiences and be embraced, at least on some level. One such franchise is the “torture porn” extravaganza known as the Saw franchise, which critically peaked at 48 percent with the first movie (still Rotten) and whose most recent installment, Saw: The Final Chapter, failed to reach double digits on the Tomatometer. That said, even if it did seem like the Saw franchise was pretty much over, another factor in play was that Lionsgate needed lots and lots of franchises and ongoing ventures after The Hunger Games (and other YA adaptations) came to an end. With all that in mind, Lionsgate is preparing to produce an 8th Saw movie, which they have scheduled for release next year on October 27, 2017 (just before Halloween, of course), and they’ve hired the creative writer/director team of the Spierig Brothers (Peter and Michael) to do it. The Spierig Brothers bring a certain level of fan anticipation to the Saw franchise, as their two most recent films (Daybreakers and Predestination) both received Fresh Tomatometer scores.  So, it’s sort of a tricky thing. On one hand, we have directors who have given us two pretty great genre films recently; on the other, it’s still the Saw franchise we’re talking about here. Verdict: This is the Rotten Idea of the Week.