Friday, July 24, 2009

Film Review: FREDDY VS. JASON (2003, Ronny Yu)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 97 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Who cares, beyond Robert Englund? (Well, Evangeline Lilly appears as a green-shirted high school extra.)
Tag-lines: "The "Slicer"...The "Dicer"...And This Time, They're Not Any "Nicer"!"
Best one-liner: Maybe "Dude, that goalie was pissed about something!" or "Now... it's time to put this 'bad dog' to sleep... FOR GOOD."

"Versus" movies beg to be judged by a different set of criteria than, shall we say, "art" films; otherwise, I do not think I would have awarded FREDDY VS. JASON the same number of stars as I gave Ingmar Bergman's PERSONA (though I suppose the argument could be made for it being a "versus" movie as well). But I cannot lie: I enjoyed this quite a bit. Even before the film begins, there is something, maybe even magical, upon hearing the electro-harpsichord NIGHTMARE theme followed up by the 'Ki-ki-ki Ma-ma-ma" which FRIDAY fans hold so dearly.

And the film, though besotten with the trappings of a 2003 horror flick, manages, to the greatest degree that it can, to remain consistent with its 80's-entrenched series' roots. Something else that 2003 offers is a new breed of tool: neckless Abercrombie jocks and glow-stick waving dunces make much more cathartic machete fodder than, say, a freak-dancing Crispin Glover. But missing from 2003 are rockin' 80's tunes, Power Glove references, and, sadly, a freak-dancing Crispin Glover. Robert Englund is back and out of control.

Though the '03 makeup is much more demonic in flavor, Englund brings a certain glee and frustration that humanizes Freddy. Who can't relate to his "Aw, give me a break," when the mine car he's trying to push onto Jason gets stuck? Or the childish, genuine delight when he discovers he can launch pressurized air tanks at his foe? "Man the torpedoes!" Jason is similarly humanized with some flashbacks of camping torment and his near-pitiful phobia of water. So it all comes down to: Whose side are you on? It seems nearly impossible to me that one could prefer the completely taciturn blank slate killing machine that is Jason, when there exists a one-liner dropping, pop-culture referencing alternative who released his own pop album in 1987.

But since the fans will debate that to the death, I suppose it gives the film even greater appeal. "Place your bets!"

-Sean Gill


TimTE01 said...

My vote still goes to the Leprechaun in any battle. Who else can kill a man with a pogo stick, terrorize Jennifer Aniston's mentally-handicapped brother AND rap? I rest my case.

Seriously though, I wish they had used one of the alternate endings planned, which would have pulled Pinhead into the mix for the next movie. How could you resist that?

Sean Gill said...

Still holding my breath for the Ghoulies to enter the mix.