Thursday, May 10, 2007

Jason X (2001)

Director: James Isaac

Jason in space. That simple pitch got this film off the ground -- no pun intended. Of course the rest of the plot would have to be figured out later, but they had their priorities. This is the 10th film in the "Friday the 13th" series. Get it? "Jason X." Clever, huh? They managed to hold out for nine years before they gave in to the driving urge to make another Jason film. Set in the future, and of course space, this film dares to exploit. Don’t get me wrong; I’m totally convinced that a good film could be made about Jason in space - this ain’t it. It simply was in the wrong hands. The makers of this film seem to know nothing about the series, and simply want to use elements from it that they’ve only heard of third-hand to promote it. I was going to say, “It’s so bad, it’s good”, but a more accurate description would be, “It’s so bad… it’s REALLY so bad.”

I can’t critique this film without completely ripping it a new one, so that’s what I’ll do. Set a few years in the future, Jason’s been captured by the government, and is being used as a guinea pig. They’ve placed one dumb guard in charge of keeping an eye on him. He may as well have said to Jason, “Just kill me already.” Now Jason’s on the loose in the facility, and he’s finally contained in a cryogenic tube by the hottest government researcher that ever existed, Rowan (played by Lexa Doig). Jason manages to stab Rowan through the chamber; breaking the seal, and freezing both of them. Now it’s even further in the future, 2455 to be exact. A group of students on a field trip and their teacher, Professor Lowe (played by Jonathan Potts) rescue both Jason and Rowan, and take them aboard their ship. We now know it’s the future, since one of the characters doesn’t recognize what Jason’s wearing, and questions, “What’s hockey?” I guess in the future they just forgot about hockey. Can you blame them? Once Rowan is revived with a futuristic procedure involving tiny ant-like robots…or something like that, we get to meet the rest of the cast. The cast is the hottest it’s ever been. Even futuristic fashions leave nothing to the imagination. I’m sorry, but no research students have ever looked like this, and WILL never look like this, ever – not even in 2455. There’s an android woman, who at times seems to forget she’s playing a robot. There’s a sex-obsessed couple, a gritty tough black guy who’s a commander of sorts, and of course, the annoying nerd. Rowan informs Prof. Lowe that Jason is extremely dangerous, and should not be kept on the ship. In one of the most well-written lines of dialogue, Prof. Lowe remarks to a superior that, “I need money.” He wants to exploit Jason as an archeological find, and is willing to risk his ship's and student's safety. Anyway, he doesn’t think Jason is harmful, so they just lay him out on an examining table. He’ll be fine; don’t tie him down or anything. Oh, and make sure you DON’T keep an eye on him. This gives Jason an opportunity to make his easiest escape ever. Earlier, he performed some sort of Houdini magic trick to switch places with the inept guard in order to escape, but now he’s just lying on a table, guarded by some bimbo scientist. What could go wrong?

Something goes wrong. Jason wakes up, obviously. In the film's most inventive moment, Jason freezes a girls head in a vat of cryogenic fluid, and smashes it on the counter. From there, it’s downhill with the deaths. Now Jason’s free to terrorize this gaggle of GAP models. First things first: they need to split up. A sort-of SWAT team is dispensed to take him out, but when Jason begins taking them out instead, they run out of ideas. In the meantime, Jason’s killed the pilot, and they manage to destroy their only hope of rescue by flying through, and ultimately blowing up, the space station they planned to dock at. Now they’re lost in space with Jason. It’s just a good thing they have a sense of humor as they get killed. When Jason throws one member onto a giant screw that apparently was just sitting around, one colleague comments that, “He’s screwed.” And you thought Hollywood was devoid of wit. Mostly the deaths involve people getting impaled by various sharp objects, one girl gets sucked out a tiny hole in the ship as it depressurizes, and Prof. Lowe of course meets his demise as he tries to “reason” with Jason. “I’ll make you famous.” Jason thinks about it, and introduces the Professor to his machete.

Once it’s down to a few remaining crew members, they realize the ship is slowly dying. They attempt to break off the damaged part of the ship, and survive in another section. They plan on blowing up the connection between the two halves of the ship. A rescue crew informs them that they’ll be there in 45 minutes…if only they can hold out that long. Well, they can. In a last ditch effort to throw the viewers a bone, they soup up the android woman to resemble a reject from “the Matrix.” They couldn’t even steal from a good movie. Despite the fact that they know bullets won’t work on Jason, she continuously blasts him, and eventually it works. Who needs continuity? Of course she had to blow off his arms and legs to stop him. They set the charges, and head for the other end of the ship. In one of the most uncalled for freak-outs in the history of film, one chick goes nutty and locks the rest of the cast out of an escape capsule, and crashes it into the side of the ship. Now Jason conveniently lays broken and beaten on the table that’s used to repair broken limbs and health in general. And what a coincidence, but the machine just turns on by itself, and turns Jason into an uber-Jason that's a mix of the Super Shredder from the end of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II" and Lord Zed from the Power Rangers. Believe me, it sounds a lot cooler than it looks, and it doesn't even sound that cool. Now Jason takes out the android chick by lopping her head off. That’ll teach that robo-bitch not to mess with the master, and not to show her robo-boobs at the beginning of the film. Jason knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake. They finally reach help, and attempt to dock. Jason hasn’t been killed yet though, so they need some way to stretch out the plot…but in a reasonable and plausible way. Cue the docking door that won’t open for some reason. Now the gruff and tough black commander throws on a space suit and attempts to repair it. Rowan, the geeky tech dude who loves the android a little too much, and the robo-chick’s head are all that’s left now. They try to stall Jason as he makes his way through the ship towards them. They trigger their “Holo-deck” and simulate Camp Crystal Lake (complete with topless girls) to distract him. Jason beats one girl against the other in their sleeping bags. Even Jason seems bored by it. The door is fixed, and the two and a half protagonists make it onto the rescue ship. As they fly off, their abandoned ship blows up, and Jason makes it off and begins to fly towards them. He’s knocked off course by the commander in his space suit, who seems to come out of nowhere… seriously, he came out of nowhere. Anyway, he rides Jason into Earth’s atmosphere like they were a gay sledding team. They land in a body of water, where a couple of teens observe it. “Let’s go check it out,” one of them remarks, and it ends on a shot of Jason’s mask floating to the bottom.

It’s just too easy to criticize "Jason X." It’s NOT a Friday the 13th film by any definition. It simply has a character named Jason who wears a hockey mask. The best part about this franchise is that they never know when to quit. There’re just so damn many of these films, including not one but two films with the word “final” in their titles. Now that’s when you know it’s gotten way out of hand. I love it though. Critiquing "Jason X" is like beating up a retarded kid, though; it’s just too easy (not that I know from experience or anything). It’s not even enjoyable on a campy level. The nudity is scarce, but they might make up for it with the attractive cast. It completely lacks the wit and inventiveness a "Jason in space" film deserves - "He's screwed." The acting is…well, they’re all models, so what did you expect? The dialogue is terrible even for a Jason film - “I need money.” And the deaths are lazy and predictable, and too often don't even have much to do with Jason (i.e. the freak-out girl, and the girl who's sucked out the tiny hole). The special effects make it look like a made-for-TV movie or worse, and the "plot" is based solely on coincidences and ineptitude. Now I feel bad for punching this retarded child of a movie, but if I didn’t say something, there could be a sequel. Who am I kidding? There’ll be a sequel – “Jason on the Moon: The REALLY Final Chapter.” Maybe I should shut up before I give them any bright ideas.

Best Death: Jason cryogenically freezes a chick’s head, and shatters her face on a counter.

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