December 16, 2005

Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)
New Line Home Entertainment

98 mins. · R
Letterboxed · 2.35:1

Format
UMD

Audio
English - 2.0

Subtitles
English, Spanish

Extras
Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes

Starring
Robert Englund, Jason Ritter

Review by
John Carpenter


Rating



(2003)

This is a movie where I may lose a lot of reader respect. Call it a guilty pleasure if you wish, but I love "Freddy Vs. Jason". Both series have been on a downward spiral for some time, and the thought of merging the two seemed like a huge gamble. Ronny Yu, the same man who resurrected the "Child's Play" franchise with the sleeper hit "Bride Of Chucky" has a knack for knowing what horror fans want from 80's horror icons. Fans of Freddy and Jason both will be pleased with the attention given to each disfigured villain in a battle reminiscent of a pay-per-view wrestling match. The two maniacs will take horror fans down memory lane by giving a brief recap of both franchises before moving into the action. Capturing the spirit that made both franchises successful, screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift manage to blend the diverse histories of Freddy and Jason into a plot that makes total sense for a horror movie. Though it spawned a trend of "Versus" inspired imitators (Alien Vs. Predator" and "Boa Vs. Python"), Ronny Yu's direction and obvious love for the genre gives "Freddy Vs. Jason" an edge that slices and dices the competition.

Think for a second at some of the big name directors who cut their teeth on horror films. Of the top ten grossing movies of all time, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, and James Cameron all currently have entries. While I can't say a lot for "Piranha 2: The Spawning", "The Evil Dead" and "Dead Alive" certainly are highlights in the genre. Horror films open doors for many aspiring filmmakers to get an opportunity to showcase their skills. With the genre bringing life to the careers of those who kill off characters, it is nice to see up and comers like Ronny Yu pay homage to the films that have influenced a generation. While the vast majority of people will write off "Freddy Vs. Jason" as just another horror movie, it is a nod to entertaining filmmaking and is a great addition to any horror fans DVD library.

The 2.35:1 widescreen presentation is perfect. Ronny Yu has a knack for getting the best looking black levels. The clean transfer sports great color, spot on flesh tones, and excellent detail. Only the sunlight can bring the picture quality of this UMD down, as normal lighting conditions do not significantly affect the viewing experience. As with their DVD's, New Line knows how to transfer a movie.

Given the limitations of the PSP faceplate speakers, I couldn't expect much in the sound department. Do yourself a favor and use earbuds or amplified speakers. The level of detail will be raised considerably in the sound department and provide the movie with a deep, balanced track. Having seen the movie a few times, I opted for a commentary on the go with my ear buds. Even in the various locations, the dialogue was crisp. Even the commentary track sounds better on anything other than the PSP speakers. The sound on this UMD is excellent, you just have to do a little tweaking to maximize it.

Upon loading up the UMD, there are two options. Depending on which one you choose, will determine the theme of your main menu. There is the Crystal Lake theme or the Elm Street theme. Ported over from the Platinum Series DVD is a commentary track with Ronny Yu, Robert Englund, and Ken Kirsinger (Freddy and Jason to those who don't watch the credits). Dominated by Englund, the commentary is very enjoyable. The trio discuss the ins and outs of the film, as both fans and participants. The absence of Friday fan favorite Kane Hodder is even discussed for those wandering where the 'true' Jason was at during filming. Twenty deleted/alternate scenes made it to the UMD with optional commentary by Ronny Yu and Executive Producer Douglas Curtis. The scenes are all presented in widescreen and have the final touches of the finished product. Among the scenes are an alternate opening scene and the original ending. The commentary basically explains why the scenes didn't make the final cut, which most of us can figure out just by watching them. Also included are the trailers for "Blade", "The Butterfly Effect", and the 2003 version of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". All titles are available on UMD from New Line. While I haven't yet seen the UMD's for "Blade" or "The Butterfly Effect", my all to brief history with New Line UMD's suggest they are must own titles as well. In a blink and you'll miss it portal, this UMD also has the 'jump to a kill' doorway located in the special features menu. Depending on which 'theme' you choose, you can see the mayhem of either Freddy or Jason. There are English and Spanish subtitles available on this UMD.

This is the best UMD I have seen so far. New Line has taken advantage of the dual-layered format to bring a great presentation to consumers. The easy to navigate menu opens a number of options for Freddy and Jason fans alike. While the picture presentation is flawless, the PSP speakers cannot handle the sound. The faceplate speakers have a difficult time capturing the spirit of the movie, so please use earbuds or amplified speakers. Despite the PSP limitations, "Freddy Vs. Jason" is the new benchmark for UMD's. It couples a strong presentation with the most popular special features. Highly recommended.

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