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New Line Home Cinema presents
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DVD ReviewI do not believe there is a motion picture franchise in existence that is more worn out, more dull, and more in need of retirement than the Friday the 13th films. The producers know this all too well, and have made a feeble attempt with Jason X to add a fresh new spin on this tired old concept. However, they also realize that the success of this film is based on repeating the formula of the previous films. Like a groundhog afraid of its own shadow, Jason X sticks its head out to explore new territory only to find more comfort in familiar ground, and ultimately succumbs to the same dreadful clichés as all of the previous Friday the 13th films.
Jason X (a not so witty method of stating Friday the 13th, Part 10) marks the first time that the mentally challenged murderer, Jason Voorhees, mutilates his moronic victims in outer space. The year is 2455, over four hundred years after Jason was cryogenically frozen at Camp Crystal Lake Research Facility. Jason's senseless killing spree begins anew when a space exploration team finds his frozen body and thaws him out. The resulting madness is like an attempt to cross Halloween and Alien without any of the charm.
I do not think it will come as a great shock when I solidly state that this is a terrible film. Yet, much to my surprise, I did find moments of intentional humor in Jason X that were fun and gave me a hearty chuckle. The virtual reality segments are a hoot, and the sequence where Jason pulverizes a team of soldier "grunts" is mildly entertaining. While the paper-thin characters and story line posses no worthwhile qualities, the unusual style of the killings and the generic Star Trek production values may appeal to fans of slasher films as well as sci-fi geeks. Of course, all of the traditional elements of the Friday the 13th series are along for the ride as well. It has been a while since I have seen one of these films, but I believe Jason X may have the worst dialogue of the whole bunch. There is no horror, no suspense, no level of emotion whatsoever. The film is just another excuse to create a heightened body count. I dare someone to explain to me where the entertainment value lies in that.
There is a moment near the end of Jason X where a character exclaims, "This sucks on so many levels!" How ironic, I was thinking the same thing myself. Yet, as incredibly bad as this film is, I did not hate it. Though the Friday the 13th series should have ended twenty years ago, Jason X fully concedes to the fact that this franchise is a bad joke. The film is more rooted in comedy than horror, and while it might not be funny, the fact that the filmmakers acknowledge its satirical value is a step in the right direction. My guess is that anyone reading this review already knows how bad the film is and is more interested in hearing about the video and audio transfers that have already received so much hype. So without further ado, let us move on.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D
Image Transfer Review: I must shamefully admit that the sole reason I wanted to review Jason X is because of the hoopla surrounding the image transfer. Each frame of the original film negative has been laboriously remastered in high definition digital, and the results are truly amazing. The picture is completely smooth and blemish free, with the entire presentation appearing like a glossy photo print. Some may complain that the transfer is too dark, but I found the level of black to be sheer perfection, adding to the stunning level of depth. Other than a few fluorescent red backgrounds, which I find look disastrous in a video-based environment, colors are purely stunning. My biggest complaint is that the picture appears quite soft in several scenes. However, this is a minor protest when taking into consideration the level of clarity that this transfer boasts. I did detect several quick jitters in a few frames, as if it were a digital mastering anomaly, yet these instances are hardly noticeable. The strong efforts of the high definition mastering have resulted in a gorgeous transfer like no other I have seen. I hope this practice will soon be utilized on a worthier feature.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: An equally remarkable soundtrack complements the image transfer. Both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS tracks are offered, and both are phenomenal. One of my largest pet peeves of a digital soundtrack is overblown, muddy bass. I am pleased to state that the low end on Jason X is not only consistently earth shattering, but remarkably clean as well. All six channels are aggressively active throughout, enveloping the viewer with music and raucous sound effects. Though dialogue is essentially irrelevant in this film, it remains clear as a bell throughout. The film's soundtrack could be considered the complete antithesis of the film's screenplay; try as I might, I cannot find anything wrong with it.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Blade 2, Final Destination, A Nightmare on Elm Street
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Jim Isaac, writer Todd Farmer, producer Noel Cunningham
Layers Switch: 00h:50m:15s
First, is the feature-length commentary with director Jim Isaac, writer Todd Farmer, and producer Noel Cunningham. Imagine my disappointment to hear that these filmmakers actually sound serious when discussing this absurd film. I expected a commentary of sardonic wit and humor, but instead I was treated to Jim Isaac explaining his solemn vow to create a film that was not just another gore movie.
The first of two documentaries is titled The Many Lives of Jason Voorhees. This telling piece documents the success of the franchise, which is humorously likened to a fast-food empire. Both fans and filmmakers of the series offer their opinions as to the allure of these films. While most of these comments are tongue in cheek, some of them are stated with such stern conviction that they prove to be more frightening than anything I have seen in these movies. Packed with humor and insightful trivia, this is a funny and entertaining documentary that will be enjoyed by both rabid Jason fans and casual viewers alike.
While not as entertaining as The Many Lives of Jason Voorhees, By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Jason X is another above average documentary. Getting the boring EPK fluff out of the way within the first several minutes, the remaining duration focuses on the many interesting CGI effects and the digital mastering of the film. The allure of both these documentaries is exemplified by the fact that they are presented in anamorphic widescreen.
The most fitting extra is the Jump to a Death Scene feature. Here, the viewer can specifically choose to individually watch any of the many deaths in the film. Seeing as death is all the film has to offer, I consider this feature to be the preferred method of viewing Jason X. Briefly glancing at this section, I counted upwards of 26 deaths in the film. Is that all?
The theatrical trailer is presented in glorious 5.1 sound with anamorphic video. Aside from the fact that it is a lousy trailer for a lousy movie, it looks and sounds fantastic. Also included are trailers for three other New Line horror extravaganzas.
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsI am resisting great temptation to recommend this DVD based on audio and video alone. While the transfers are first-rate, they are essentially worthless without a decent movie. I can only recommend Jason X as the free portion of a two-for-one rental. Even then, it would probably be a good idea to view the "Cliff's Notes" version of the film, using the Jump to a Death Scene special feature. Watching the entire film may prove hazardous to one's mental stability.
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