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DVD Review: Jason X

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I remember seeing the trailer for the first time and thinking that it looked absolutely ridiculous, I also knew that there was nothing that would stop me from seeing it in the theater. I did, of course, see it on the big screen and loved every goofy minute if it and walked out surprised at how well the concept really held together.

Typically when you send a killer into space, that usually signals the death knell for that series. For example see Hellraiser: Bloodline, which I sort of liked, Leprechaun 4: In Space, and Critters in Space. But after watching this, I walked out thinking that while silly, it held together pretty well as a stand alone film. There are issues when you try to tie it in to the rest of the series, but I can let that slide.

The film opens with a tour through a lab behind the opening credits, next we move to a bare holding cell with Jason chained up awaiting cryogenic freezing. Apparently he had been caught years before, tried and sentenced to death, with the problem being, they couldn’t find a way to kill him, so they decided to freeze him. Of course, nothing goes as smoothly as it should, and we end up with dead soldiers, a dead doctor, and a frozen Jason, and a frozen future victim, Rowan. We flash forward a few hundred years to find the Earth is a wasteland where students go on field trips. On one such expedition, Jason and Rowan are discovered and brought back to their ship in orbit. We know can safely assume that Jason will thaw and go on a killing spree throughout the ship. We get a series of new kills not previously seen in a Jason slasher. I don’t really want to give away any of them, but I thought that they were some of the best in the series.

During this slaughter, something happens to Jason, which you can infer from the cover if you haven’t seen the film. Jason gets messed up pretty bad during a big battle, after which he gets “fixed” by nanites, which were used for medical reasons in the future, we end up with uber-Jason, who looks like some sort of android. A pretty cool looking design. Anyway, a lot of people get killed and we are left with our heroine, pretty much the same as the other films go.

There are some story and design things that I didn’t really care for. The biggest thing I didn’t like early on was the design for Jason. This Jason has hair and we can get a good look at his eyes, which just did not work for me, nothing will compare to the look of Jason from Part VII. I liked the subplot of the teacher wanting to sell Jason and keep him alive. The thing to remember is that this is just a low brow horror film with a decent high concept.

The acting, in terms of slasher films, is actually pretty good, some of the actors have experience with science fiction type films, which helped a lot here. Lexa Doig, who plays Rowan, and Lisa Ryder, who plays the android Kay-Em, are both from TV’s Andromeda, may not have a lot of bearing here, but I was familiar with their acting and they did a pretty good job here. Kane Hodder is a great Jason, as always, character design issues aside. We also get a cameo from writer/director David Cronenberg with a fun opening scene which leads to the initial slaughter.

The writer/director duo of Todd Farmer and James Isaac do a great job of updating the character and bringing Jason in a new direction which is more sci-fi/action than horror, but still has those old school horror roots showing. I like the script, I like the set design, which is bright and colorful and completely different from what we have seen before.

Something else about Jason X, is that it has a lot of CG work, more than any of the other films. Plus, it was the first film to have been completely digitized and manipulated in a computer, which is a big thing in the history of film, and it happened here first! Have mercy on us.

Video. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, which is it’s original aspect ratio. This transfer looks great, blacks are deep, colors leap off the screen. This is a colorful movie and the separation is great, easily the best transfer of a Jason film.

Audio. Dolby Digital 5.1, 3.0, and DTS 3.0 tracks. I watched it with the 5.1 track, and it sounds great. A very good track with good separation.

Extras. This is part of the New Line Platinum Series, and has a couple of good extras.
-Trailer. We get the original theatrical trailer, which looks good. We also get trailers for Blade II, Final Destination, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
-Jump to a Kill. More of another type of scene selection which takes you to each of the kills.
-By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Jason X. A pretty good featurette featuring interviews with the writer and director. Runs over 17 minutes.
-The Many Lives of Jason Voorhees. A good documentary tracing the roots of the Friday the 13th series since it’s inception in 1980. Runs about 30 minutes.
-Audio Commentary. This track features Director James Isaac, writer Todd Farmer, and producer Noel Cunningham. This is a fun track which is dominated by Isaac and Farmer. They tell us tales of rewrites, acting problems, what went into the effects, set tales. A good track.

Bottomline. I just flat out enjoyed the heck out of this movie. I must make a special mention of a great scene at the end where they get Jason back to Crystal Lake and bring back the sleeping bag kill from Part VII. In the end we get a big dumb action/sci-fi/horror movie with Jason. This movie is a blast and the DVD is a nice package.

Recommended.

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