Friday, May 23, 2014

Movie Review: Freddy Vs. Jason

Finally after 15 years of development hell, Freddy Vs. Jason is now in the works. Years during script rewrites, promotional stunts, jumping from writer to writer, and overseeing the hype of it all, it has finally come to this. Was it worth it? Well, first let's have a little overview of the ideas that was put under the chopping block.
In the first script, there was a group of Freddy cult members who tries to summon Freddy by bringing in a virgin to sacrifice. So they plan to kidnap the main character's sister while the main character and her friends flee from the clutches of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kruger. This script was so cheesy and stupid, I barely could read all of it.
Another one involved a girl who tries to get the heart of her dead boyfriend Jason (get it) and embedded into Jason Voorhees' body, all the while, she and her friends are escaping the grips of Freddy and the newly reborn Jason. It was okay at first bit still fell short because of the cheesy concept.
The Braga and Moore script was much better than the previous two, taking the same elements from New Nightmare and also having the main character being a distant relative of Tommy Jarvis. But I have problems with this as well. They sort of revision the whole Jason and Freddy mythology into the real world, which works but would've been executed better. The whole Jason on trial scenario sounds even more cheesy on paper, and then the climax, which takes place in a mall. A mall of all places. This had so much potential. SO much potential in fact, but most of the elements to this fell flat.
The Peter Briggs script is actually one of my favorites and will share my thoughts later into this review.
So what do I think of this overall movie?......I just think it's mediocre to be honest. Before anybody rips my head off, I do think this is an entertaining movie. Though, I do want to point the flaws and inconsisties with it, mostly with the plot and main characters. Writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift are not to blame for the movie's flaws, even though they aren't the greatest writers in the world. It's really the producers Stokely Chaffin and Ronny Yu's involvement as well by hiring scriptwriter David Goyer, which is why the writing is so cluttered. Not only that but Stokely along with producer Doug Curtis decided to recast the role of Jason to Ken Krizenger because they felt Kane Hodder wasn't imposing or scary enough, even though the guy was in four previous movies. The controversy over this is the he said, they said debacle which is ridiculous. They won't be adults and admit to what really happened. Now all the writing isn't that bad. Freddy's introduction was actually well-made if you ignore the cheesy voiceover. It shows that Freddy used to be this immoral, child molesting, child killing sociopath with no qualms on human life, instead of the wise-cracking unfunny caricature. You were never supposed to root for him or laugh with him, he is the embodiment of fear and that's how it should be.
Although he doesn't have his fair share as Freddy, Jason also is written well as he is seen as this tragic monster. Some of the fans don't agree with this concept of him, but he was this misunderstood kid who happen to die by unnecessary circumstance turning him to the killing machine that he will soon become.
The plot is pretty by the basics. At least in the scripts it build up the connection between Freddy and Jason, which were (although some) interesting concepts. But in this one, they have no connection and Jason is nothing but a pawn in Freddy's scheme to put fear in Springwood again. Freddy just so happens to put into Jason's psyche without knowing who he really is. This is my main problems with the script, it just rushes the plot too quickly without any build up or development. And then so you know it, all hell breaks loose, you have random teens caught in the crossfire and Freddy gets all jealous that Jason is taking all his victims and he's destined to get rid of him once and for all. There's not much to go further with it really.

The cast and characters were the worst. They pretty much brought down the movie for me. Most of the fans would say it's really not about the characters but they are the ones who drive the story forward. They are pretty much full front and center in 80% of the movie. Which gets me to this. What I liked about both of the franchises was how engaging the characters were. The Friday The 13th Cast were likeable and relatable. The Nightmare On Elm Street Cast were interesting and sympathetic. And if you think they would have a group of teens with similar qualities in this movie, it would make a compelling cast. Unfortunately, there is not anything remotely noteworthy about these characters in Freddy Vs. Jason. By the early 2000's, they had the never-ending trend of making young adults or teens in horror films to be unlikeable douchebags and regrettably, this trend lives on. The cast is no different from this really. There either bland, shallow, hallow, one-note, or unlikeable. That is all.

Now I said in my last review that Monica Kenna did a good performance. I really want to punch myself in the face for that. She is horrible in this movie and maybe I said all those things because she seems like a nice person in real life but her acting is just so over-the-top and forced it almost seemed unnatural. Though, I don't think it's really her fault because I've seen her do so much better. The one at fault here is Ronny Yu, who kept pushing the actors to use more energy, which explains how the actors are really bad. As far as the character of Lori, she is so useless I wanted to punch her sometimes. The Friday and Nightmare heroines always had an inner strength about them that gave them layers. For example: You had Nancy Thompson, Alice Johnson, Ginny Field, Tina Shepard. Sadly, we have Lori to look forward to. All she does through half of the movie is whine and scream. It's quite irritating actually. Lori shares none of the qualities of those characters.

She manages to get some at the end but it's a little too late, it never pays off. The other annoying thing about this character is how the movie beats us over the head about Lori being a virgin. We get it! We already know she has a 100% chance of surviving, so the movie didn't have to try so hard to be that obvious.  Though I would say the tight shirts (which displays her cleavage), the tattoo on her backside, and having a boy sneaking into your room at night? Yeah I would second guess that. AND another thing, her last name seems to be based on a certain actress and character. Laurie Strode. Neve Campbell. Get it. Though I would hardly regard Lori in the special league of the final girls, as Laurie Strode and Sidney Prescott are definitive ones. It seems more like an insult if you ask me.

Let's talk about Will....Well to be honest, there really isn't anything to say about him. He's just THERE for the most part and the only reason why he's even relevant to the plot because he's Lori's boyfriend but before I can continue, let's get to Jason Ritter's acting. He's just so wooden in this. He cannot convey any type of emotion, which doesn't make him that believable. I understand that this is his first major role but I have seen him do better and it's a shame that this was his first try. He has the good looks but not the talent to pull this movie through. Again, the character of Will just didn't do it for me. His only purpose in the movie is how he falsely accused Lori's father in the murder of her mother (which was a ridiculous plot point in the first place) and is just an obvious love interest for the heroine. Dan Jordan from Nightmare 4 have more personality than him and he's blander than a cardboard box. Sorry to say but Will just doesn't cut it as our hero of the movie.

Kelly Rowland could be a good actress, it's just she plays one of the most despicable characters in the movie. Kia is a shallow, rude, obnoxious, annoying bitch. I was just counting the hours for her screen time to be over. unfortunately, she gets to live through the climax of the movie. They try to make her the likeable comic relief but it just doesn't work for me.

Her little so-called speech is what pissed me off about this character. Originally, Swift and Shannon wanted to copy the same speech Nancy recited in the first Nightmare movie but Stokely and Goyer decided to make the speech hip and edgy by putting in a penis joke and a certain F word in there. To be honest, I really don't like this Stokely person. If she ever had a sense of  understanding teenagers and their slang terms, I wish she would use some knowledge and interview one. As for David Goyer, he can go fuck himself.

To continue on Kia's character, all she does is complain half of the time and through all her crap, she finally gets a big o'l machete whack by Jason. It was definitely worth it.

Linderman played by Chris Marquete is actually the most least unpleasant character. Chris Marquete did an okay performance and played the nerd character well. However, Linderman is anything but the stereotypical nerd though that doesn't mean he can be tough if he wants to be. Even tougher than Lori and Will. Hell, he's probably the most toughest character I know in this movie.

If you take in that pivotal moment where he stands up to a seven foot giant with a machete, it shows that he is the best character in this movie.

And when he goes out, he goes out like a badass. Why didn't HE be the hero of the film?

It's a shame that Katherine Isabelle from the critically-acclaimed and compelling Ginger Snaps is wasted in this movie. Her character Gibb is a useless hallow shell of a drunken bimbo that it almost makes me feel sad for her.

It's just cruel how they write this character and never put any thought into her personality or what she goes through. And as for Katherine Isabelle, she cashed in her paycheck.

Brendan Fletcher actually did a great performance. He had the right intensity for the role and actually would make a much more better than Jason Ritter. His character Mark is easily the only person I sympathize. What makes him stand out is that he has layers, human flaws, and not some cardboard cutout. He is actually a character we can relate to.

Mark's best moments is when he sees his dead brother and it showcases Brendan Fletcher's emotional range. But then again, the character has less screen time than the bland and annoying cast. He becomes the only victim of Freddy Krueger and it was kind of a cop out to kill off his character.
As for the rest of the disposable teens you have:

Trey, who is probably the biggest douchebag in the film and gets the first in one of the most outrageous and memorable death scenes.

Blake, a typical horny teen who was supposed to be a replacement for Will. He gets killed along with his dad.

The two annoying jerk jock stereotypes. One fat, one skinny. Gets the special treatment from Jason.

And last but not least, Freeburg, an annoying, useless stoner stereotype who gets stupidly high during a crisis and gets possessed by Freddy while being sliced in half by Jason.

And now to relay on the two main villains and also the two heavyweights of the slasher genre: Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees.

First, let's start of with Freddy who seemed to be the star of the movie. He is...a mixed bag for me. He still has that menacing edge from the first three films but still is the over-the-top cartoon villain New Line has made him out to be. On the good side of things, his thirst for malice is quite relevant, especially involving the scene where he plans to rape Lori because that's who Freddy is. He is this soul-sucking dream demon with no signs of humanity whatsoever. On the bad side of things, he is still quite talkative, so much so, it's really unnecessarily hammy. In the original script, he was given less dialogue and his personality was more in tune of how he was in the 1984 film. You know the dark and mysterious Freddy, which could've worked well but STOKELY wanted to merge in the dark Freddy and the comical Freddy, which doesn't mix well in my opinion. We really didn't need that voiceover, it's more a show and don't tell thing actually. And most of Freddy's dialogue consists of the word bitch all the time. It worked well the first go-around but it just gets annoying half of the time. Here's where it's demonstrated:

Again, Robert England does what he does best in his iconic role and it shows that only he can master the character of the maniacal Freddy Krueger.

The good parts of this movie is how they make Jason Voorhees a sympathetic character. I like how the camera focuses on his eyes to elude some type of emotion. Some people tend to forget that Jason was this misunderstood young boy who hid away from society because of his disorder. It's kind of sad when you think about it. And how he died at the summer camp is even sadder. I like how the movie emphasize on that, making him into a tragic monster instead of this hulking ball of rage. This will also lead me to the flawed end of the scale. It almost seems that Jason is put in the back burner. Most of the time, he comes like this big ogreish monster with a big machete. But that doesn't mean he still is the well-know slasher of them all as demonstrated here:

To continue on with the discussion here, Ronny Yu openly said he wanted Jason to channel Frankstein's monster. Of course, this is coming from a guy who haven't watched any of the films. This is why they should've never replaced Kane Hodder. He was the one who actually gave Jason a personality. He didn't portray him as some hulking monster with a huge knife, he made him into a human being who just happens to be immortal. He still has emotions like rage, alienation, and confusion and Kane Hodder convey those emotions well. To be fair, Ken Krizenger did fine. He did emote how Jason was feeling and did certain movements that were humanlike but lethal at the same time.

And can I say one thing, I think Ken Krizenger is smokin', I certainly love me a tall man. Plus, he can fit in a mesh shirt pretty well.

Now to the directing and special effects. I thought the visuals were good, although I really didn't like the overuse of CGI but there were cool moments like the bed-bending death scene and the bloody rave party scene...and most importantly, the climax involving Freddy and Jason tearing each other apart in a bloody battle. I also like how the visuals tell the personalities of the main villains by representing a particular color. Jason represents the color blue, illuminating his loneliness and melancholy. Freddy represents the color red for his bloodlust and psychotic rage.
But what I mostly want to talk about director Ronny Yu, who is a bit of a mix bag for me. This is also a mishap on New Line's part because they were so eager to hire him off his money run from Bride Of Chucky, since they really seem to like it. First of all, I don't think Bride Of Chucky is a classic and it's more of a guilty pleasure than anything. Second, They hired a guy who never watched any of the Friday or Nightmare films and New Line was so anxious to hire him because they wanted an 'Asian perspective' or whatever that means. Ronny Yu refused at least four or five times but New Line just kept begging him. It just comes to show that the film company were so hooked on making money at the box office rather than focusing on the history and much needed story structure of the two horror icons. On top of that, you have Ronny Yu and David Goyer altering the script and his bad direction of the actors alongside Stokely, who pretty much took over half of the production. But the biggest issue is how they write the movie, which was originally supposed to be dark and edgy but turned into a cartoon show instead. Also the focus on Lori's father was distracting, possibly making him turn out like he's the bad guy, even though you have Freddy and Jason in the same movie. Freddy afraid of fire and Jason afraid of water? Really? and don't even get me started on how the group of teens went from Springwood, Ohio to Crystal Lake in New Jersey in just ten minutes, it's definitely a headbanger. All this big plotholes and slipups just disjointed the story if  you ask me.

But the ending is what saved the movie from being a forgettable mediocricy. The way Jason slowly comes out of the water holding Freddy's head like a trophy is a true historical moment in both the franchises.
Now on to the trivia. Speaking of the movie's ending, there's was an alternative ending as presented here:

The filmmakers decided to cut it because it was too I-know-what-you-did-last-summeresque. And you know what, I'm so glad they did. It was super cheesy and stupid.
Brad Renfro was originally casted as Will but due to his personal problems and being late on the set, he was later dropped from the role. It's disappointing he didn't went on to play the role because I think he brings the right kind of intensity for that character.
Katherine Isabelle was originally supposed to play Lori and to be honest, I felt she had the right looks for the role and was a good enough actress but for some reason they put her in the Gibb role instead which is so below her.
The first draft of the script was going to involve Tommy Jarvis in a cameo or at least a reference where the climatic scene takes place in the construction place. This would've been cool but for some reason they scrapped it. I blame Stokely and Mr. Goyer for this.
Now let's talk about the Peter Briggs script. The story is very innovative and just a few pages of the script in, I got hooked. The ideas that was put into this was handled well. Bringing back Alice From Nightmare 4 and 5, and Steven and Jessica From Jason Goes To Hell was a good contuation on both the series and was a smart move by the writer. And even though, I don't care for Jason Goes To Hell, I at least thought the main characters were interesting.  To continue on with the script, I thought there were scenes that was quite suspenseful. Once you read what was going on you really feel that the stakes are higher now. I know at first that the Christian Mythology elements is a little heavy-handed but even if that was scrapped out of the story, It still would've been a strong script.
So unfortunately, they didn't go with this one, even though I think it's one of the better scripts they gotten so far. Plus, it would've been cool to have Jacob and Stephanie as teenagers fighting against Freddy and Jason but that idea would later be in the sequel comic books.
So there's Freddy Vs. Jason. To be quite fair, it has really weak story and even weaker characters, but they have great moments to make up for it. Speaking of which, it's certain scenes from the movie that save it from being forgettable or mediocre. This movie is not a classic. It's a by-the-numbers slasher with an annoying teen cast and really bad writing when I could expected something more, especially  out of a Freddy and Jason flick. Again, it needed better characters, a better story and a much developed connection between the two villains. But oh well, it is what it is: A silly slasher movie.\
My Last Word: Yeah sure, you can watch it. It is an entertaining movie whether you get bored on a rainy day but as a fan of both of the franchises, there will always be a slight disappointment of what could've been.

P.S. Man, those were a lot of reviews. It's been a year and seven months of this and I'm pooped. So I'm going to take a break from doing reviews for a while But don't worry I'll post a special message here and there. So thanks for all the views. See you next time....