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Monday, June 28, 2010

Jason X (2002) review

JASON X (2002)

Lexa Doig (Rowan), Lisa Ryder (Kay-Em 14), Chuck Campbell (Tsunaron), Jonathan Potts (Professor Lowe), Peter Mensah (Sgt. Brodski), Kane Hodder (Jason), David Cronenberg (Dr. Wimmer)

Directed by James Isaac

The Short Version: Hugely entertaining, but overwhelmingly bizarre tenth entry in the infamous slasher series gets Jason lost in space. Easily the most intriguing, interesting and well intentioned sequel of the whole franchise. The makers obviously had loads of fun making this one even if fans were divided on it. Outside of a few genuinely bad dialog exchanges, I loved every minute of it.

***WARNING! This review contains images of nudity and violence***

The regenerative capabilities of Jason Voorhees are being studied at a research facility near Crystal Lake. He is about to be transported to another location for further study when the raging killer manages to escape his bonds and kill nearly everyone in the building. Rowan, a female scientist who warned against keeping the maniac alive, locks Jason inside a cryogenic tube and freezes him. However, she likewise becomes frozen in a freak accident. Flash forward to the year 2455, Earth's civilization has been wiped out by a holocaust. A group of young archaeologists from neighboring Earth 2 embark on an expedition to search for surviving remnants of Earth's past. They find both Jason and Rowan frozen in cryo chambers and haul them aboard the main vessel. Soon after, Jason manages to escape and begins slaughtering everyone aboard the spacecraft while the dwindling survivors try and combat the unstoppable killing machine.

Let me start off by saying that JASON X (2002) is my absolute favorite of the FRIDAY THE 13TH sequels. Ever since first reading about the production in 2000 and its subsequent 2 year life on a shelf after some managerial changes at New Line, I expected nothing but the worst. Was I ever surprised upon seeing it theatrically the first of three times that it was the most fun I'd had watching one of those movies. One very simple word describes the whole affair--Fun. Outer space was the final frontier (haha) left to explore for this series and it was a massive gamble on the part of the filmmakers. Either a love it, or hate it entry, I can safely say that I enjoyed it immensely.

Virtually every science fiction-fantasy-action-horror movie cliche is jammed into this movie. One of the most obvious is the nod to the 1951 classic, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. In that movie, something is found in the ice and taken back to a research outpost for study where the unknown being thaws and goes on a rampage. The same thing happens here, only the audience is fully aware of what 'It' is. ALIENS (1986) also gets a nod with a group of heavily armed mercenaries aboard the Grendel that are dispatched to take down the now revived 20th century serial killer only to be dispatched themselves.

The inclusion of futuristic hardware is a nice touch that adds to the overall 'B' movie factor inherent in these movies. Possibly following the lead of the disastrous HELLRAISER 4 (1996), which put Pinhead in space, the idea of Jason Voorhees in an ALIENesque environment is far more fantastical. There's also a female cyborg (in love with her creator) who does battle with Jason, the use of nanotechnology that can repair damaged cells and reattach limbs and the birth of 'Uber Jason'. Near the end, Jason is literally blown to bits and damage done to the ship has the madman being reassembled by the nano bugs using anything handy. The result is a TERMINATOR like Jason who is seemingly invulnerable to everything.

The makers of the movie are self aware of what kind of film they were making and did the best they possibly could to ensure the maximum amount of entertainment value and self referential humor. With an apparent increase in budget, there's a lot more opportunity to show off some spectacular set pieces. Many of the visuals are nice to look at, while some others are below average. One of the best moments in the movie is a sequence where the survivors attempt to buy some time by creating a hologram from Jason's past. Successfully mimicking the Camp Crystal Lake surroundings, Jason suddenly finds himself back on his home turf. Two pretty young girls then run up to him asking if he'd like to partake in some pot and pre marital sex. The next time we see Jason, he's bashing the two girls against a tree whilst zipped up inside their sleeping bags.

Another scene in the movie that is both bizarre and humorous is the duel between Jason and Kay-Em, the android. Some elements of Hong Kong style fighting briefly rears its head here. The second time they fight, right after Jason has become a cyborg, Kay-Em isn't so lucky. Cliffhanger moments come fast and thick once Jason finishes off a large group of gun toting military personnel. Every attempt at escape, or rescue is thwarted by a mishap of some sort.

For its sheer brazen attempt at trying something new, JASON X deserves something resembling accolades for creativity. Still, there's no denying the cheeseball ramifications that survive the finished production. The dialog is frequently ridiculous peppered with stale one liners (some of them are funny, though) and the musical score by a returning Harry Manfredini is anything but notable. Sounding like a cheap, direct to video composition, the score is the worst of the entire series. It's totally unsuitable and considering the level of action on hand, the soundtrack never rises to the occasion. Jason's familiar and iconic theme does emerge a couple times throughout.

Kane Hodder's last hurrah as the masked psycho killer is one of his best since he first donned the hockey mask for FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 7: THE NEW BLOOD (1988). Since then, he became an instant fan fave with his virulent, husky and overly brutal portrayal of Jason. Although a silent performance, his was unlike any that had been seen up to that time. By using specific body movements and motion, Hodder "brought Jason to life". Prior to his time in this series, Hodder was seen in a lot of action movies as thugs such as AVENGING FORCE (1986) and AMERICAN NINJA 2: THE CONFRONTATION (1987). Currently, he's still heavily involved in horror cinema.

With an enormous amount of kills, lots of action and plentiful visual effects, this sci fi slasher is a goofy, gory good time. Uber Jason is simply stunning and an intimidating creation on the part of the writers. This new impervious Jason gets a lot of screen time during the last half and the makers come up with some ingenious ideas to keep things moving to the satisfying finale. I had lots of fun with it and enjoyed a few boxes of popcorn while being entertained by its silly, overly outlandish charms.

This review is representative of the New Line DVD


I Like Horror Movies said...

This was the first Friday film I ever purchased on DVD, and I have seen it more times than any of the other films, including the original. I fucking love JASON X, it is so unexpected and so much more entertaining than many of the other sequels. The deaths are top rate too, no one can get by without claiming one kill from X in their top ten F13th kills. The resurrection of the sleeping bag sequence is easily my favorite. Awesome. I really love the "Its OK, he just wanted his machete back" quip too =D

venoms5 said...

I 100% agree, Carl. It's obvious that those involved had a blast with this one. As much as people complain about how stagnant the series had become, when something radically different and fresh was done, a lot of people started shouting how stupid it was. Oh, well. You can't please everybody, but I definitely had a blast with this one.

The line where the girl says "This sucks on so many levels" before she's sucked through the grating in the ship was pretty damn funny. The one where Mensah jokes with his men about bringing Jason in "alive" was kinda cool, too. The one where the two girl grunts find the dead marine on the drill and says "He's screwed" I thought was cringe inducing, though, lol.

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