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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadako 3D, 23 July 2013
Sadako 3D is the fifth Japanese entry into the ever growing Ring franchise. (The other 4 being Ring, Spiral, Ring 2 & Ring 0: Birthday) Based on Koji Suzuki's most recent Ring novel, S, the story brings the aged concept of a cursed video cassette into a more modern medium. A few years back I found the footage of Ring's cursed tape on YouTube and I did start to wonder what would happen if the original tape were uploaded to the internet. Sadako has a very similar concept; a video clip online cursing people, forcing them to instantly commit suicide.
As a big fan of the Ring franchise I was pretty excited about this next entry, modernizing it to make it relevant in today's world where online content is the primary source of information and entertainment. However, Sadako is a very different film.
Not only is the plot more modern but it is an all round modern kind of horror film. Where Japanese horror in the 90s and early 2000s were more atmospheric, forcing an uncomfortable and wary feeling onto the audience. Modern horrors just go for the jump scares. Especially if they have 3D in the title.
A new style and modernising the franchise will draw in a younger audience. Considering Hideo Nakata's original was released 15 years ago, some of the audience for Sadako will probably have never even seen any other Ring films.
Personally, I don't see Sadako as a sequel to the Ring trilogy. More just a film based on a book within the novel's continuity. I understand the confusion and anger some reviews have shown when viewing this as a sequel. But as a modern horror, and as a film based on a novel which in turn is sequel to a novel which was made into a film with not much more to link this to the trilogy, it's actually ok. Of course, it has its flaws; the CGI, the rejected vessels in the well, setting up for a sequel (which too many films do nowadays)
But it has it's good points, I really liked the stylized cinematography, Satomi Ishihara gave a good performance (and she's not bad to look at too) and the idea of Sadako taking over the billboard and the TV sets in a shop window is something I've thought about for years
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity, 28 May 2013
By 
Jordan (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sadako - Ring 3 [Blu-ray] [2012] [US Import] (Blu-ray)
The Ringu franchise gets a 21st century update in this fourth instalment of the classic horror series. Coming over a decade after Ring 0, Sadako 3D was a real chance to kickstart the ailing series and give renewed life to Koji Suzuki's classic story. Sadly, although the film starts well and manages to update key elements of the Sadako folklore, it is ultimately let down by a bizarre finale and its completely pointless use of 3D. We are left to wonder whether Sadako should have perhaps stayed down the well.

The film begins with the suicide of a disgraced artist, broadcast via webcam to a handful of people on a video sharing website. Although the video is promptly deleted, it soon becomes notorious throughout Japan as "the cursed video" after rumours emerge that all who watch it take their own lives shortly thereafter. The legend is particularly popular among teenagers, who scour the net 24/7 trying to find a working link among the `404 not found' error pages.

The film's protagonist, Akane, is a high school teacher drawn into the legend after one of her students apparently commits suicide while watching the clip. As more and more of her class expose themselves to the danger, Akane learns of a connection between the suicidal artist and the notorious Sadako legend from a decade earlier. Could Sadako be behind this latest cursed video? If so, what does she want this time? And how can she be stopped?

For fans of American horror, Sadako 3D is to Ringu what Scream 4 was to Scream: a reimagining of the original story, transferred to a modern setting with modern technology, and with characters who are aware of the previous films' events. Where Scream 4 failed was in trying to merge the original premise - of teenagers being isolated and stalked in a small town - with the modern setting, never really answering the question of how a 21st century teenager can ever be 'isolated' in an era of smartphones and mobile internet. By contrast, the writers of Sadako 3D recognise that the original film's premise would seem dated today, and use advances in technology to their advantage.

For starters, Sadako no longer needs a television set to wreak her revenge: the creepy long-haired girl appears from smartphones, laptops and even electronic advertising boards. It's a useful ploy that means characters are never really safe wherever they are, and it works well. What also succeeds is the uncertainty of the 'cursed video': instead of a tape that characters either watch (and be damned, exactly seven days later) or don't watch (and be safe), the video is an online stream that moves about the internet, appearing at random on computers or smartphones that have previously searched for it. This means you are never really sure when (or if) a character will be next, giving a breath of fresh air to what could have been considered, by now, a tired concept.

All of that, though, is completely undermined by the final act, where the director (for some inexplicable reason) decides to crossover a decent paranormal ghost story with a creature feature - with predictably terrible results. Without spoiling the full details in this review, nuances from the Sadako legend are reduced to Silent Hill-like zombie creatures, almost leaving the viewer unsure if they're still watching the same film. Of course, genre crossovers are popular in Asian cinema and can be done successfully (see, e.g., Spellbound), but this just fails miserably. Things do get back on track somewhat for the ultimate finale, which satisfies to a point, but the damage has already been done by that stage.

Mention must also be made of the 3D effects. Although often a gimmick at the best of times, the extra dimension serves no purpose whatsoever here, being restricted to shots of Sadako's hand emerging from screens of various sizes - and that's about it. Moreover, since most of the (modest) budget appears to have been spent on the 3D apparatus, the film looks decidedly low-budget when watched in 2D, with some truly laughable CGI effects. I appreciate that the 3D `gimmick' may have been required to get this film made at all, but I do wonder whether the final act would have strayed so far from the Ringu folklore had the director not being able to cheat his way out of proper storytelling with the cheap, gimmicky effect.

Ultimately, then, we are left with the feeling of what could have been. With its decent overall premise and its intelligent use of technology to update the original story, this could have been the refreshing reboot needed to kickstart the Ringu franchise. As it is, Sadako 3D is a mere curiosity; worth a watch (for the first hour at least) if you enjoy the original films, but more likely (in the final act) to alienate existing fans than win over new ones.

5 out of 10 - disappointing.
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Sadako - Ring 3 [Blu-ray] [2012] [US Import]
Sadako - Ring 3 [Blu-ray] [2012] [US Import] by Tsutomu Takahashi (Blu-ray - 2013)
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