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JASON X ($27) is probably the freshest, most original idea carried out in the FRIDAY THE 13TH series in the last two decades, although the kernel of the idea isnít all that original. Once upon a time, there was talk of John Carpenter returning to the HALLOWEEN series, or at very least the producers were soliciting his input as to how they could take the series in a fresh direction. Carpenterís idea supposedly involved launching Michael Myers into outer space, where he could go on a space station killing spree. Of course, the producers of the series were less than thrilled by that particular notion, and nothing ever came of that idea. Well, no idea (original or not) ever seems to go to waste in Hollywood, because the producers of the FRIDAY THE 13TH series have launched Jason Voorhees into outer space with JASON X.

Opening in the not too distant future, Jasonís old stomping grounds have been transformed into the Crystal Lake Research Facility. The facilityís lone experiment and lone prisoner is none other than Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder), whose unique DNA and regenerative abilities have been deemed worthy of further study by the government. After an unforeseen and excessively bloody escape attempt by the resident hockey mask-wearing maniac, Jason winds up in the cryogenic deep freeze, along with a beautiful research scientist named Rowan (Lexa Doig), who just happens to be the sole survivor of his latest machete wielding rampage.

Flash-forward about four hundred years to an inhospitable Earth; where an archeology professor and his students find and retrieve both Rowan and Jason from their frozen slumber before blasting off back into outer space. Although Rowan is intentionally resuscitated, all Jason requires is a quick thaw before he is up and killing the horny archeology students of the spacecraft. While the genre is pretty much played out, JASON X actually proves to be a fun slasher movie, thanks to the cool setting, flashy special effects, a good dose of humor and some interesting plot twists. The cast of JASON X also features Chuck Campbell, Lisa Ryder, Peter Mensah, Melyssa Ade, Derwin Jordan, Dov Tiefenbach and director David Cronenberg in a brief cameo.

New Line Home Entertainment has made JASON X available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This being a New Line title, it should come as no surprise that JASON X looks great on DVD. Also in the movieís favor is the fact that it was shot on film and then scanned frame-by-frame into the digital realm, where all of its postproduction work took place at HDTV resolution before being output back to film. This presentation comes directly from the digital domain, and because it bypassed the final film print stage, the image on the DVD appears pristine. The picture is crisp, cleanly defined and shows the benefits of having been tweaked digitally at the equivalent of the frame-by-frame level. Colors appear pretty vibrant and are rendered without a trace of noise or bleeding (can't say the same for the characters). Blacks appear on the money, whites are clean and the picture produces excellent shadow detail. Overt digital compression artifacts never became discernable on the cleanly authored dual layer DVD.

JASON X features excellent 5.1 channel soundtracks in both the varieties of Dolby Digital and DTS. There is abundant atmosphere and discrete sound effects contained in the mix, which works very well in this cross genre offering. The sci-fi aspect is a bit more aggressive, with all the spaceship sounds whizzing through the sound field, while the sounds of Jason stalking his quarry are decidedly more atmospheric. Dialogue is crisply rendered and is always completely understandable. The bass channel is deep and full bodied; adding convincing weight to the movieís impacts and explosions. As for the differences between the two digital sound formats, DTS has the decided edge, thanks to its high resolution, which creates a slightly more dynamic sonic experience. Of course, Dolby Digital is no slouch, so listening to the standard bearer wonít disappoint anyone. An English Dolby Surround track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVDís interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental features. Director Jim Isaac, writer Todd Farmer, and producer Noel Cunningham are on hand for an informative audio commentary. The Many Lives of Jason Voorhees is a half hour program that looks at the character and the film series that has run ten installments over the last two decades. Of course, the section on the Paramount FRIDAY THE 13TH movies is somewhat skimpy, especially when compared to the later films that were made when the series moved over to New Line. By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Jason X runs almost eighteen minutes and differs from the typical featurette of this type because it focuses on how the film and special effects were produced and ignores most of the talent from in front of the camera. Closing out the supplements is the self explanatory Jump to a Death Scene feature and a theatrical trailer. On the DVD-ROM side, one has access to the filmís screenplay and various web links.

JASON X is probably the most fun a FRIDAY THE 13TH movie has been in a very long time. I really like the Jason Voorhees in outer space storyline, as well as the interjection of humor, which keeps the film from taking itself too seriously. As for the DVD, New Line delivers the goods in terms of audio and video quality, as well as adding some solid supplements to the disc as well. If you are a FRIDAY THE 13TH fan, or just a genre buff looking for a good time, youíll want to pick up a copy of JASON X on DVD.



Jason X


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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