Friday, November 28, 2014

Freddy Vs Jason (2003)

Freddy Vs Jason
Director: Ronny Yu
Starring:  Robert England, Monica Keena, Jason Ritter, Katharine Isabelle, Kelly Rowland, Ken Kirzinger, Chris Marquette, Brendan Fletcher, Lochlyn Munro, Kyle Labine
Rated: R

I've always had a thing for the whores that live in this house.
             ~Freddy Krueger

We're back at this one again.  I think this is the fourth time I've written about Freddy Vs. Jason in the past year or so (Pardon if its rather brief, when I get around to Friday the 13th we'll be talking this yet again!).  Luckily, I'm a fan of the movie and its not all for naught.  This is the film that I think mainly derived from playground debates.  If you're a child of the 80s or early 90s it wasn't uncommon to discuss a match between Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees.  These were the top horror icons of the entire 80s decade.  Jason planted 8 films in 10 years, and donned one of the most iconic masks of all time.  Freddy became a media friendly icon and rose to some large stardom.  Nobody was talking about Alien and Predator meeting up until after Predator 2 gave us a sniff of that possibility.  Freddy and Jason.  Who was your guy?  Who was going to win?  Fans were chomping at the bit to see this film.
And the producers were listening, it just wasn't as easy as it sounds to get them together.  Since Friday the 13th Part VII, this idea was in the works.  The problem was that Paramount owned Friday the 13th and New Line owned Freddy.  Each studio wanted to be the one to produce the movie, and neither could agree on halvesies.  They also butted heads on who should come out victorious in said movie (guess which studio wanted it to be Freddy and which Jason).  The director of Jason Takes Manhattan admitted he was signed on to do what he thought was Freddy Vs. Jason, but wound up falling through again.  However, after that movie bringing in some of the lowest returns of the series, Paramount was done.  They didn't sell off Friday the 13th, but they let New Line have the rights to the character of Jason Voorhees to do as they pleased.  
It started off with bringing back Sean Cunningham to Jason.  Since they were doing Freddy's Dead and it had been a couple years since a Jason movie, he put into motion Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday to brush people up on Jason and set up Freddy Vs Jason.  When Wes Craven was brought in to work on the matchup with Cunningham, he instead wanted to do New Nightmare.  This was followed by years and year of scripts and rewrites and this guy brought in and that guy brought in.  Jason X was made just to pretty much put something out there.  And then, finally, they found something they liked, worked the script, got the director they wanted and it was off to the races.  It was really too good to be true when it was announced that it was actually happening.  
They brought in Ronny Yu.  And as a big fan of what he did with Chucky (Bride Of Chucky), I was pretty excited to see what he'd bring to Freddy and Jason.  I think he brings a sort of campfire version of both the big screen with a little bit of fantasy.  I'm a big fan of how he overdoes a lot of Jason's brutality to a bit of a shock, comic booky and comedy.  The movie realizes a VS movie is never going to wind up working as a "scariest movie of all time" and instead does its best to focus on being campy and bringing it with action sequences and special effects.  Yu decides to deliver us a WWE cage match instead of...well...I dunno how someone else may have had it play out and frankly I don't worry or wonder because I was satisfied enough with this movie.  
While I think the film does give its credence to Jason, its pretty clear that he is the special guest star in A Nightmare On Elm Street movie.  While the film knows that, it makes sure to give Jason a lot of appreciation.  He's basically the more sympathetic and "hero" of the two of them.  Somewhere deep down the writers are asking us to root for him.  Jason gets all but one of the kills in the movie, and interacts with all the protagonists.  The final bout also gives him home field advantage.  So while he's Freddy's pawn in this, and given a super dumb "weakness" (afraid of water), Jason still gets plenty of airtime and love.
Freddy gets to meet something for the first time that he was born to experience; CGI.  There are some solid sequences and new motifs that don't go over the top with Freddy here.  The shadow in the street part is really cool.  For most of the film, though, Freddy is in a weakened state, so we really don't get to see the full power of what he may have been able to accomplish.  But, what we do get of him feels pretty fresh and at home with the series.  Oh and Robert England is back for the first time in 9 years, and for this iteration of the charcter 12 years and he doesn't miss a beat.  He's actually the best he'd been since Dream Warriors, easily.  
I was surprised to find how this movie provides such a split down the middle, but go figure.  Despite some of its shortcomings, I thought it was better than I could have anticipated.  The film was fun, action packed and full of moments that made me geek out like Freddy yelling at Jason "Hey! Asshole!".  I feel like I got more than I could have bargained for with this movie.  The important thing is that it actually happened.  Looking back at some of the rejected scripts for this movie, thank god they went with this one.  And its a pretty tall task when you think about it.  You have two fanbases to please.  Both come with hardcore fans and casual fans.  You also have to appeal to mainstream audiences as well.  So, I definitely applaud what they put out and continue to enjoy it to this day.

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