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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Ronny Yu
Cast:
Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, Monica Keena, Kelly Rowland, Jason Ritter, Chris Marquette, Katharine Isabelle, Brendan Fletcher
Writing Credits:
Wes Craven (characters), Victor Miller (characters), Damian Shannon, Mark Swift

Tagline:
Evil vs. Evil.

Synopsis:
It's the battle everyone's been DYING to see! Teenagers find themselves caught in the middle of a battle between two legendary boogeymen: Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. Who will win in the bloodiest and goriest showdown in history? Place your bets Tuesday, January 13th. Start the New Year ... with FEAR!

Box Office:
Budget
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$36.428 million on 3014 screens.
Domestic Gross
$82.163 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
English Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 1/13/2004

Bonus:
Disc One
• Audio Commentary with Director Ronny Yu Plus Actors Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger
• “Jump to a Death” Menu Option
• DVD-ROM Content
Disc Two
• Deleted/Alternate Scenes with Filmmaker Commentary
Fangoria Articles
• Production Featurettes
• Storyboards and Galleries
• Trailer
• TV Spots
• Pre-Fight Press Conference
• “My Summer Vacation at Camp Hacknslash”
• Music Video
• DVD-ROM Content


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RELATED REVIEWS


Freddy Versus Jason: Platinum Series (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 29, 2003)

After years in the planning, the hybrid flick Freddy Vs. Jason finally hit the screens in 2003. A pairing of Friday the 13th’s Jason and A Nightmare On Elm Street’s Freddy, the movie promised the ultimate showdown between two true horror icons. Audiences ate it up; with a gross of $82 million, the film did very well for something from this genre. However, the end result seems more like the same old, same old, without much innovation of creativity.

Forgotten and powerless, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) needs something to scare the kids of Elm Street again so he can return to glory. He delves into hell and revives Jason Voorhies (Ken Kirzinger). Freddy impersonates Jason’s mother and sends the facemask-wearing killer to spread mayhem on Main Street. He comes upon the house that earned the focus of the original movie. Inside we find three high school hotties named Kia (Kelly Rowland), Gibb (Katharine Isabelle) and Lori (Monica Keena) plus Gibb’s boyfriend Trey (Jesse Hutch) and his buddy Blake (David Kopp). Jason nails Trey and the gang flee the house, where they come upon Deputy Stubbs (Lochlyn Munro).

The police lock down the house and start to worry that Freddy’s behind the slaying. They don’t let the kids know about this, though, and new hire Stubbs also has no clue about Freddy. Eventually Lori remembers Freddy, though, and this enables his return. He lacks the strength to do any damage, so he allows Jason to run rampant in the meantime. This leads to another killing.

Soon we meet Lori’s lost love Will (Jason Ritter). He disappeared from her life years earlier, and she thinks he just ditched her totally when he left Springwood. However, it turns out that he was institutionalized after the murder of Lori’s mom since he believed her dad (Tom Butler) did it. When he sees that someone got killed in Lori’s house, he aspires to do something to help. He and his buddy Mark (Brendan Fletcher) manage to escape, and they head to Springwood to warn Lori.

Back there, the adults try to keep things under wraps so Freddy doesn’t emerge again, but the kids start to freak. The adults try to blame it on Blake, but the others suspect something else is afoot, and Lori tells them about her Freddy-related nightmare. Eventually Will and Mark arrive and let her and the others know the scoop. While they stay on the lam, Will and Mark attempt to uncover the truth about Krueger and the adults’ plot to keep matters secret.

When they figure out the reasons behind the suppression, Mark realizes it actually makes sense, so matters then become a simple rescue mission, as Will wants nothing other than to save Lori. This leads him to a wild party in the field where all the kids go to blow off steam. When Gibb passes out, Freddy comes after her. However, as this occurs, Jason sees some loser try to rape her, and he kills the pair. Freddy becomes irate when Jason steals his intended victim.

Jason comes upon the party and launches a serious slash-a-thon among the teens. The survivors flee and Will tells Lori the truth about her dad. We learn some complications there as well that imply an even deeper plot than originally suspected. In the meantime, Freddy becomes frustrated that Jason won’t stop his killings and sends a message about his return.

Except for Stubbs, the police can’t see the forest for the trees; they’re so focused on Krueger that they ignore signs of a different killer. Stubbs meets up with the kids and convinces them of the other party, and they quickly figure out they’re dealing with two maniacs. Then they need to work on a plan to eliminate both threats. As that occurs, Freddy and Jason go through their own battle.

Or that’s what the title promises, at least. Despite the film’s name, we really don’t get a lot of fighting between the pair. They exist as adversaries for maybe half of the flick but don’t spend much time battling. The last act features more of that sort of mayhem, though even then, the focus stays on the kids and not the baddies.

In truth, Freddy plays more as an Elm Street movie with some 13th elements than as a true hybrid of the two series. This seems especially true in the flick’s first half. Jason hacks and slashes on occasion, but the plot largely concerns itself with the Freddy legend and menace. Jason’s story becomes more prominent in the film’s second segment, but this remains less integral to the overall plot.

Ah yes – the plot. When I went into Freddy, I essentially assumed that the story would be about how Freddy yanked Jason out of hell to kill and spread the Krueger legend as a result. When Jason wouldn’t stop killing, Freddy’d come back and the pair would go at each other. Did anyone really want anything more than that from this flick?

Since I don’t count myself as a big fan of either series, I can’t answer that. However, I feel that such a tale would be enough to satisfy people who see the film. We definitely don’t need to tremendous amount of exposition and the intricate plot of Freddy. What with the various teens, the efforts by their parents to suppress dreams, and whatnot, it gets very complicated. I thought I’d be able to synopsize the story in one paragraph ala the preceding one; no way did I think it’d take seven paragraphs to go over the plot!

All of this nonsense robs the film of its energy. Admittedly, I like some of the depth the plot offers. The main concept behind the flick – that Freddy thrives on attention and can’t function without it – seems cool, and the notion that he’ll use Jason to stir up interest appears clever. However, all of the bits with the teens get old quickly.

That seems especially true since the film doesn’t really offer all that much action between the two horror legends. Yeah, things heat up moderately well in the third act, but it takes a lot of dull exposition to get to that point. Even when we find some fighting, it feels like too little, too late, especially since constant interruptions ruin the flow of the battle. Just when they start to go after each other, we head back to the teens and their actions.

Some will probably feel disappointed that the battle results in no true victor. However, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Actually, one of the pair does win, but given the genre’s refusal to ever say die, it doesn’t seem like a shock that the movie lets us know the fight isn’t really done. (Although I try to avoid spoilers, I don’t regard this as falling into that category; anyone who thinks the movie will end with the conclusive demise of either Freddy or Jason hasn’t ever seen a horror flick.)

I don’t mind the absence of a real conclusion, but the lack of drama or excitement along the way comes as a problem. Freddy manages the occasional chilling image. For the first time, we get a real feel for Krueger’s origins as a child-killer; the scenes with a young girl he tortures and slays are genuinely horrific. The shots of a pre-teen Jason also help create a feeling of sympathy for the character; that seems kind of odd, but it gives the story a little more depth than I anticipated and offers a few truly creepy bits.

Otherwise, unfortunately, most of Freddy Vs. Jason is the same old, same old. Occasionally the killings provide memorable moments; the shot of a flaming Jason as he slays in a cornfield comes to mind. Otherwise, the simplistic characters and excessively convoluted plot weigh down this flick. I don’t know if the die-hards will like it, but it leaves me fairly cold.

By the way, is Springwood located in the Silicone Valley? I didn’t realize that so many high school girls sported breast implants these days.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B+

Freddy Vs. Jason appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Despite some iffy moments during the flick’s early moments, Freddy mostly provided a solid image.

Sharpness usually appeared excellent. The majority of the flick came across as accurate and well defined. A few shots displayed a mild amount of softness, but those elements seemed minor, especially after the film’s first few minutes. No issues connected to jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, but some light edge enhancement seemed apparent. As for print flaws, a little grain popped up, mainly because Super 35 flicks tend to suffer from more grain than average. Otherwise, the movie seemed clean and without defects.

Given the dark setting of Freddy, not a lot of bright hues appeared. Some stylized lighting showed up with moderate frequency, though. Various sequences became heavily infused with blue, red or green tones, and those seemed distinctive and well represented. In general, the colors were tight and accurate. Black levels also seemed deep and firm, while most low-light situations appeared cleanly depicted. A few early dark shots were too murky, but the majority of the film’s shadows seemed clear and concise. Despite some niggling issues, Freddy largely offered a very good presentation.

Many will love the Dolby Digital EX 5.1 audio of Freddy Vs. Jason because it offered an extremely active affair. The soundfield made very lively use of all five channels virtually from start to finish. The surrounds speakers didn’t play a support role. Instead, they often remained as loud as the front channels, and they presented a high level of unique audio.

This usually worked fine, but occasionally I thought the surrounds were too active. I love a visceral and involving track, but this one went slightly over the top at times. Occasionally it became tough to concentrate or hear elements from the front – especially dialogue – because the surrounds took over so strongly. Those moments remained rare, but they occurred, which knocked Freddy down to an “A-“.

Otherwise this was a very strong soundtrack. The various elements seemed well placed within the spectrum and meshed together nicely. Again, each channel got a lot of work. The surrounds featured a wide array of pieces, and even included a moderate amount of directional dialogue from the rears. The mix seemed effective overall.

Audio quality also appeared excellent. Despite those lines that became tough to hear, the speech was always concise and crisp, with no problems on display connected to edginess or intelligibility. Some of Freddy’s narration also sported deep bass that made his lines more ominous. Music sounded bright and detailed. Both the score and occasional rock songs seemed tight and dynamic. Effects played the most important role in the film, and those also worked well. The various elements came across as distinctive and accurate. Highs were clean and clear, and bass response sounded deep and rich. No concerns with distortion occurred, and Freddy presented a consistently satisfying soundtrack.

New Line have produced a two-disc “Platinum Series” release for Freddy Vs. Jason. Most of the extras appear on the second disc, but a couple show up on DVD One. In addition to the self-explanatory Jump to a Death chapter search option, we find an audio commentary from director Ronny Yu and actors Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific piece.

Englund heavily dominates this mediocre commentary. For the most part, he attempts to liven up the proceedings with wisecracks. However, most of these don’t seem very amusing, so the track falls flat and becomes moderately annoying at times. Englund also frequently tells us how much he likes various elements and lavishes the praise.

Between the jokes and the love, we don’t get much time for actual information, though some pops up on occasion. Englund knocks out some notes about his work on prior Elm Street flicks and his experiences on the Freddy set, and when he quiets down long enough to let the others chime in, they provide reasonably useful remarks about their own work. However, those elements appear more infrequently than I’d like. Kirzinger simply lacks the personality to override the chatty Englund; sometimes he tries to get out an anecdote but his fellow actor prattles on so much that he can’t win. Yu seems content to let the others carry the load. Chalk this one up as a pretty disappointing discussion.

As we move to DVD Two, we open with a collection of 20 deleted/alternate scenes. These can be viewed individually or as one piece via the “Play All” option; if you select the latter, the clips will fill 15 minutes and 55 seconds. One of them – “the “original opening” – runs three minutes, 35 seconds, while “Party in the Corn” takes 105 seconds and the “original ending” lasts 100 seconds. The rest run between 15 and 55 seconds.

That doesn’t leave much room for anything to happen. Indeed, most of these clips are just short trims from existing scenes, and they add little. Even the longer ones don’t offer much that seems interesting. The scenes can be watched with or without optional commentary from director Ronny Yu and executive producer Douglas Curtis. They cut the vast majority of these sequences for time reasons and because they provide unnecessary exposition, so that’s essentially all the pair say most of the time. A couple of bits receive additional discussion, but most earn basic remarks.

An Easter egg appears in this area. Click up from the arrow to go to the next screen and a blotch will show up on the screen. Hit “enter” to watch a 165-second featurette about some endings considered for the film that weren’t shot. We hear from the flick’s screenwriters and its main effects crew as we see concept art. It’s a fun little piece.

Within the area of the DVD called “The Production” we find a mix of pieces. This domain starts with two Fangoria Magazine Articles: “Freddy and Jason Go to Development Hell” and “Slicing Towards Completion”. The former ably traces the film’s slow route to the screen and also explores many abandoned concepts. “Slicing” follows the flick as it actually starts to come close to being made. It goes through more unused ideas before we see the development of what showed up in the final film. It also gets into the “rules” of the movie’s universe. Both articles add up to one satisfying exploration of their topic.

After this we find five production featurettes. These include “Genesis: Development Hell” (10 minutes, 19 seconds), “On Location: Springwood Revisited” (14:45), “Art Direction: Jason’s Decorating Tips” (11:31), “Stunts: When Push Comes to Shove” (21:36), and “Makeup Effects: Freddy’s Beauty Secrets” (6:27). These provide the standard mix of movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We hear from director Ronnie Yu, producer Sean Cunningham, co-chairman and co-CEO of New Line Robert Shaye, New Line senior VP of production Stokely Chaffin, screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, production designer John Willett, stunt coordinator Monty Simons, stunt actors Glenn Ennis and Deborah MacAtumpag, makeup effects artist Bill Terezakis, actors Robert Englund, Chris Marquette, Kelly Rowland, Monica Keena and Ken Kirzinger.

One can infer the various subjects from their titles, but I’ll go through some of the topics nonetheless. “Genesis” looks at some elements of how the flick made it to the screen, most of which look from a slightly different viewpoint than the Fangoria articles; happily, not too much redundant material appears. “Location” includes only a few comments, as it mostly presents images from the set. “Tips” presents some information about the visual look of different places – especially the dream worlds – but also mainly consists of behind the scenes shots. “Shove” mostly examines the stunt in which a fiery Jason walks through a cornfield as well as some general topics, and video from the set dominates it as well. Lastly, “Secrets” divulges information about how the complicated makeups are developed and applied. These featurettes show more than tell, so don’t expect many insightful details. Nonetheless, the behind the scenes shots are quite interesting, and they make these featurettes a lot of fun.

More of these sorts of pieces appear in the Visual Effects Featurettes area. This domain looks at 12 different sequences in a collection that runs 34 minutes, 58 seconds when viewed with the “Play All” option. Presented as a “tour” with visual effects supervisor Ariel Velasco-Shaw and visual effects producer Kevin Elam, this program intersperses their interview snippets with movie clips and elements of the effects in production. They go through the various challenges in detail and provide a nice examination of their work; the featurette helps us get a good grasp on how they did their effects. The men are very frank about their challenges, so this is a terrific discussion.

Finally, “The Production” presents a whopping 11 Galleries. Six of these look at “Storyboards”. We get illustrations for “Opening” (111 screens), “Trey’s Death” (47), “Grain Silo/Boiler Room” (46), “First Battle” (135), “Freddypillar” (31), and “The Dock” (67). The other five galleries look at “Behind the Scenes” (33 stills), “Concept Art” (26 images), “Freddypillar” (15), “Locations” (12), and “Makeup Design/Models” (34). These add up to a nice collection of pictures and preparatory materials.

Inside the “Publicity and Promotion” area we find a few additional pieces. Pre-Fight Press Conference – Bally’s Casino, Las Vegas, July 15, 2003 gives us a three-minute and 48-second event to hype the flick. The ever-annoying Michael Buffer hosts and does his ever-annoying schtick as all involved treat Freddy and Jason like prize-fighting boxers. It’s very lame.

Next we get the movie’s theatrical trailer plus eight TV spots. A music video for Ill Nino’s “How Can I Live” features the kind of pop metal usually found in horror flicks. The video mixes lip-synching with a minor plot in which someone stalks a babe on Elm Street. To my surprise, it includes no movie clips, but it also presents no inspiration and it seems dull.

To round out this domain, we find My Summer Vacation: A Visit to Camp Hacknslash. This three-minute and 55-second featurette covers a big premiere event in Austin, Texas. Basically this put a bunch of fans at a summer camp for the day before they watch a screening of the flick. It’s a clever way to stage a premiere but not a very interesting event to watch, except for parts of the wet T-shirt contest, I suppose. Lastly, More from New Line presents trailers to advertise The Butterfly Effect, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Jason Goes to Hell.

For DVD-ROM users, the fun continues. Different features appear on both disc. On DVD One, “Script to Screen” lets you read the original script while you watch the movie; the video runs in a small screen on the left as the text displays on the right half of the screen. In a more creative, the “Enhanced Mode” lets you watch the flick accompanied by a trivia game. This lets you play as either Freddy or Jason and promises a prize if you “emerge victorious with more power than your opponent”. However, I did that and didn’t get any reward! Still, it’s a moderately fun feature.

On DVD Two, we access “Killer Sound Bites”, which lets you select nine of Freddy’s one-liners and the squishes and hacks for nine of Jason’s kills. It seems pretty lame. “Cutting Room Floor” allows you to re-edit the battle between Freddy and Jason in the nightmare world. You take any of 21 clips and re-arrange them at will. This sounds cool, but unlike other editing features I’ve seen on DVD, it doesn’t let you select alternate takes of the same scene. Instead, these are all short but stand-alone bits, so to mess with their order doesn’t make sense, and the end result becomes nonsensical.

Both discs present some links. The “Hot Spot” sends you to a New Line site that apparently offers revolving pieces of information and activities. We also get links to the Freddy Vs. Jason website and New Line’s homepage.

Freddy Vs. Jason did well enough financially to invigorate both movie franchises. Unfortunately, the film lacked much creativity and came across like a missed opportunity. Too much yak, not enough hack! At least the DVD works well. It presents very good picture and audio with a varied and solid roster of extras. Fans will definitely dig this well executed two-DVD set, but others without a huge appetite for these iconic baddies should give it a pass.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8947 Stars Number of Votes: 57
295:
114:
7 3:
22:
81:
View Averages for all rated titles.