Who wins in ‘Freddy vs. Jason’? Not the audience

Freddy vs Jason

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
August 15, 2003

1.5 stars

Don’t bother asking who the ultimate winner is in the battle between “Freddy vs. Jason.” We’re not supposed to tell you. But suffice it to say you don’t have to be clairvoyant to realize this franchise isn’t going to die, even if one of the lead characters supposedly does.

Yes, Freddy Krueger of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and Jason Voorhees of “Friday the 13th” are back. Having already milked the last possible storylines from their respective franchises, the two uggo villains team together and then battle each other for the rights to kill all those incredibly stupid teenagers who somehow escaped their claws in the past.

Director Ronny Yu adds some style to this mess, but it’s not enough to make up for what’s lacking. “Freddy vs. Jason” isn’t “I see dead people” scary. It’s mostly just gross. When limbs and heads fly (and trust me, they do–often), they look fake. Which is how it should be in a movie that, while rated R, still will be mostly popular with young teenage males.

Even the female nudity grows old fast. When the first nubile bimbo stripped to her death early on in the movie, the men at the screening I attended hooted and hollered their appreciation. There were a few claps for the second topless victim. By the third and fourth, there wasn’t so much as a whimper. It’s not that the latter actresses were any less attractive or buoyant. But like the carnage that fills the screen, bare breasts don’t make up for the lack of a cohesive script and good acting.

That said, Robert Englund is always entertaining as the pockmarked and flesh-burned Freddy. Mute Jason, who is played by stuntman Ken Kirzinger, pretty much just ambles around like a machete-wielding, hockey mask-wearing punk.

As one of the soon-to-die teens notes, “That goalie dude was pissed about something!”

Destiny’s Child’s Kelly Rowland makes her feature film acting debut as Kia, one of the more likable cast members.

A snooty kid who rattles off one-liners like, “We don’t have time for date-a-dork right now,” Kia is the only character who is fairly well thought out.

There are a couple other standouts. Christopher George Marquette is appropriately wimpy as shy Linderman. John Ritter’s kid, Jason, does a nice toothy turn as the male hero, Will. And Kyle Labine channels his inner Jason Mewes (of “Jay and Silent Bob” infamy) to play a funny stoner. But if there was someone rooting for the film’s virginal heroine Lori to survive the ordeal, they weren’t sitting by me. Played by Monica Keena, who rightfully was killed off on “Dawson’s Creek” a few seasons ago, Lori is the chesty good girl who is tormented by the demons, but who also is responsible for causing some of the mayhem.

Like the battle scenes in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” the ultimate cage match between Freddy and Jason is drawn out and anti-climactic. There’s lot of impaling, dismemberment and, well, what else is there? But it’s all played for laughs, like a monster episode of “Jackass.”

Since when were Freddy and Jason supposed to be that funny?

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