Saturday, December 28, 2013

Movie Review: Friday the 13th: Jason Lives

After the poor reception of A New Beginning, filmmakers finally sought the chance to bring Jason back from the grave and the result is the fun and enjoyable fan favorite Jason lives. This is by far the ultimate Jason movie. It has thrills, it has kills, the stakes are much higher this time, and everyone is pretty much aware that a maniac is out in the woods. It's also one of the first films to have Jason as some sort of sub-human zombie-like killer, which is technically Tommy Jarvis' fault. The feel of the movie is a lot more lighter and softer than the sleazy part 5. So there's never a slightly uncomfortable moment. There's not even any nudity, it's almost like an apology. The characters are back to being likeable, though not only relatable but also charming and funny. Once you grow attached to them, it's almost sad when they die.
Jason Lives is much more fast-paced than your usual Friday the 13th film, with more action, slick writing, and a much more imposing killer.
Here's the story: after escaping the mental institution, Tommy Jarvis is set to face and vanquished his demons by burning Jason's grave, the man who have haunted him all these years. But once his inner pain and anger consumes him,  he stabs Jason with a metal pole, only to cause a strike of lighting to hit the metal pole, reviving Jason yet again. Tommy must now stop Jason from reeking havoc on Crystal Lake (now renamed Camp Forest Green) yet again.

The cast is much more charming and likeable than in the previous movies to the point where I felt a little bad when they met their end. They're not exactly one-dimensional, having each of the character mold into their distinctive personality. And finally for once the cops get to have a day in the spotlight.

Oh boy, there is so much to say about Tommy Jarvis. He's not particularly the best written character in this movie. He's also the sole reason why Jason is now an unstoppable killing machine, even though, HE'S supposed to be the hero. What was his purpose of going to Jason's grave in the first place? It could be said that Jason is the reason why he has this impending dark side. This other side to him he can't escape unless Jason is gone for good. They are one in the same and Tommy wants to break free from that. Live his own life without living under Jason's spell. Why didn't they put that in the script? I think his character would've been handled a lot better than it should. Even though I had read the script, there is no explanation on Tommy's psyche. It's just this routine of "oh look at me, I made a mistake" and trying to convince that Jason is real. It's a bummer because Tommy is the best character of the series and he was a lot more developed in Part 5.

Though besides all that, Thom Matthews is a solid actor, not to mention easy on the eyes, too. He just has that natural stance of the next big action star. The piercing blue eyes, the wavy blond hair, the chiseled features, and those kissable lips. He can definitely win an award for best Paul Newman look-a-like.

 Now let's move over to Megan Garris, who is our Final Girl, there is not much to say about her, only that she is the sheriff's daughter and she is totally in love with Tommy (not that I don't blame her). I did say she was a bit dumb in my last review, but that's not really the case.

She is viewed as a typical teenage girl who happened to discover boys and refuse to be Daddy's little girl forever. Then I thought she was there to be Tommy's love interest and eye candy for the boys, but what makes her stand out is that she has a cool personality. She's funny, likeable, and could hold her own.

The chemistry between her and Tommy works, It sort of reminiscent to the action couples of the 70's and 80's. In the end, I thought Megan was a really enjoyable character and Jennifer Cooke did a spot-on performance.
I couldn't quite catch up with the rest of the cast but the majority were likeable. I did enjoyed Megan's friends, Cort, Sissy, and Paula. I just thought they were harmless teenagers just sittin' back, doing their job, and having fun.

I especially felt for Lizabeth, played by director Tom Mchloughlin's wife, Nancy. I really didn't see what was wrong with her character. She seemed pleasant enough, she had a memorable line, and it really shown that Nancy didn't have to act her character, after all, she is a nice, nurturing woman in real life. I just didn't like how they killed off her and Tony Goldwin's character so soon, there was much to establish on these characters. Hell, Lizabeth was willing to give Jason her money. She's that generous. Oh well, you know what you get in a Friday the 13th film.

Then there's Cort, who is your usual fun-loving metal-head not to mention a cutie pie, too.

Of course, I had the sharp end of the knife when he did.

And here is Sissy. She doesn't get much screen time, but when we do see her we get to learn more about her personality. She's laid back, cool and someone you could definitely be friends with. Well, she gets a pretty gruesome death where Jason takes her head and twists it clean off. just awful.

But Paula was the one I had my heart out for. She's probably the most nice and innocent of Megan's friends. She doesn't do drugs, she doesn't have sex, she doesn't even swear and she's also nurturing and kind towards the kids. But I think she gets the worst death in the movie because we don't see it. It's just awful and it makes Jason more scarier and more brutal than any slasher villain.

Once the kids arrive in the camp (which is first for a Friday film), you kind of feel the oncoming danger in its' wake. And once the kids are in the middle of the mayhem, you feel quite scared for them. Once you look at it in a perspective way, It sort like the monster that everybody tells campfire stories about has become real.

Finally, there is Sherriff Garris, who is shown to be a badass but has a soft spot for his daughter Megan underneath it all.

Once Jason goes after Megan, Sheriff Garris flips out and he goes into an epic battle with Jason, only to result in one of the most cringe-worthy on-screen deaths in the movie and it doesn't even have any blood or gore whatsoever. But at least the man died with dignity.

Now, with Jason, like I said, he is much more brutal and much more stronger than ever. He is played by CJ Graham, who was a military guy, which gave Jason this larger than life appeal he's known for today. Jason also seemed to adapt a terminator-like feel to his movements and it definitely worked in this film.

Now on to the special effects. It's amazing how they would conjure big money effects in such a small independent-made film.

I thought the RV scene was glorious. Once it crashes, Jason rises up triumphantly. It's probably one of the most memorable scenes.
Now on to the trivia. Originally, the filmmakers asked John Shepherd to reprise the role of Tommy, alongside Melanie Kinnaman and Shavar Ross as Pam and Reggie, respectively. But Shepherd later declined due to personal differences involving his faith, so the filmmakers decided to completely retcon the series, bringing in Thom Matthews in the role, who previously starred in Return Of The Living Dead.

Crew Member Dan Bradley played Jason in the first few days of shooting. Dan Bradley didn't quite have CJ Graham's tall muscular Physique, he is a lot much bulker and according to one of the filmmakers, "a little fat." So they decided to bring in CJ Graham to give Jason more of an imposing, threatening appearance.

When the film was first screened to test audiences, they demanded more body count, which includes a couple having a romantic evening in the middle of the night for some dumb reason and the death of caretaker Martin.

The Caretaker was originally supposed to live in the alternate ending, serving purpose to important plot twist involving Jason's Father, Elias. Yes, I said it, Jason's FATHER.

This would've been the first time we get to see him on screen. But this particular scene was not filmed, instead it was left on the storyboard. It gives more information as to how Jason was never cremated since then and implies that Elias pays Martin to take care of the body.

There is also a menacing side to the Elias character which explains how fucked up the Voorhees family tree is.
Time for some Nightmare connections. Jennifer Cooke starred as Elizabeth in the TV series V. Guess who starred in the mini-series prior to it.....Yes Robert "Freddy Krueger" England.

Some seem to the think that the little girl Nancy in the movie is a special nod to Nancy Thompson from A Nightmare On Elm street, but actually it was based on Tom Mchloughlin's wife as she has the same name. But you can think however you want it.
The movie was a box office hit but not so much as let's say the first Friday the 13th or Final Chapter, though it did well on home video.
I really liked this one. Some people might be put off by the humor in this movie but I think it works. To be honest, there was going to be some point in the series was going to be a little campy. So again, I really enjoyed this movie. With likeable characters, A scary villain, and a great soundtrack by Alice Cooper. This is definitely a fun thrill ride.
My Last Word: Easily the best Friday the 13th Film.

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