Thursday, February 12, 2009
JASON IS OK
Ah, the first review of the new Friday The 13th movie are starting to come in and it really isn't looking to good for the new movie. This review comes from Fangoria magazine, which gives the movie "2 Skulls out of 4 Skulls. "..The initial FRIDAY, there’s the briefly glimpsed backstory of the murderous Mrs. Voorhees, who lived by the machete and died just the same; from PART 2, there’s her grown son Jason established as a forest wild man with a sack over his head and a ramshackle home deep in the woods; from PART III, Jason has been given a more powerful physique and eventually acquires his trademark hockey mask; and from THE FINAL CHAPTER, the young victims-to-be are not camp counselors but vacationers, and the hero is a young man in search of his missing sister, an apparent victim of the marauding murderer.The new film also holds hard and fast to the rules of the slasher-franchise game. The first group of young people we’re introduced to (including the aforementioned sister Whitney, played by Amanda Righetti) do all the things guaranteed to inspire Jason’s wrath: taking drugs (or at least they plan to once they find the marijuana crop they’re seeking), having sex and singing along really loud to Night Ranger. Mr. Voorhees dispatches these interlopers right quick, and six weeks later, Whitney’s brother Clay (SUPERNATURAL’s Jared Padalecki) shows up in the area with a backpack full of missing-person flyers but gets no help from the squirrely locals. Meanwhile, a group of college buddies arrive for a stay at the waterside house of Trent (Travis Van Winkle), the designated jerk who nonetheless is the boyfriend of the designated nice girl (Danielle Panabaker). This gang also soon begins doing all the things guaranteed to inspire Jason’s wrath: taking drugs, having sex and topless waterskiing on Crystal Lake.Indeed, it’s hard to call this FRIDAY THE 13TH a remake, because virtually nothing in it has been remade, which is to say rethought or reconceived. Without being a shot-for-shot replication, it nonetheless adds no new wrinkles to the old formula; as the Jason fan I saw the movie with quite accurately pointed out, you could slip this film in between PART III and FINAL CHAPTER, and it would fit perfectly. Those devotees who ask for nothing more than the spectacle of Jason bumping off a fresh assortment of dimwitted/horndog kids (with plenty of gore and boobage unfettered by the MPAA concerns that plagued the Paramount sequels) will probably find the new FRIDAY more than satisfactory, and are welcome to bump the rating below up by a skull or more.But still, coming from the team (Platinum Dunes and director Marcus Nispel) who effectively and successfully revisited THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE several years back and kicked off the whole ’70s/’80s-remake trend in the first place, this FRIDAY is a disappointment. Surely they and scripters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, who worked a few nifty variations on the mythology into their FREDDY VS. JASON screenplay, could have given the diehards what they want while delivering something more creative, imaginative and witty. (The closest they come to an in-reference is a cop called Bracke, after author Peter of CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES, though his name is mispronounced.) Instead, the film is resolutely unsurprising and predictable; if you don’t know how the movie’s going to end after a visit to one character’s barn, you’ve probably never seen a film like this before. And the young protagonists are ciphers or stereotypes, hardly engendering the sympathy required to feel any real terror at their plight.Some slasherhounds say (and are already saying in this film’s defense) that caring about the characters and even being afraid for them is beside the point in a FRIDAY feature; the gory demises, watching Jason do his thing, is what it’s all about. To that end, newcomer to the role Derek Mears does do a fine job of conveying the required physical menace (fortunately, the filmmakers don’t seem to have taken seriously the claims of some of their number that Jason is really a tragic figure to be pitied as he callously slaughters everyone in sight). Though Mears moves faster than the slow-stalkin’ Voorhees of movies past, he’s not so active that he breaks continuity or dispels his power. The same cannot be said of Nispel and cinematographer Daniel C. Pearl’s camerawork, though, which too often favors shaky close-ups that make it hard to follow the action. And as far as the “creative killings” that became FRIDAY’s hallmark are concerned, this one peaks early, and the splatter, though graphic, doesn’t hit the heights of outrageousness that would really get crowds whooping and hollering.Instead, Nispel and composer Steve Jablonsky try to goose the viewer by accompanying Jason’s appearances with aural blasts that aren’t nearly subtle enough to be called stingers, and instead suggest the musical equivalent of a train hitting a stalled car. This in-your-ear approach gets real old real fast, and one yearns for the comparative grace notes of Harry Manfredini’s compositions for the earlier FRIDAYs. Potentially most disappointing for the buffs in the audience is the fact that his signature “ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma” sound effect, which is as essential an element of these movies as Jason himself, is only employed very sparingly here. Perhaps Nispel and co. eschewed its use in an attempt to separate their FRIDAY from its forebears—but if they were trying to give this film its own identity, they didn’t try nearly hard enough. Watching the end result, there’s never a compelling sense of why they remade FRIDAY THE 13TH in the first place."