Today's Pick: Jason X (2001)
Last year, I chose Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI for the thirteenth recommendation of the month. I made the case that it was the best entry in the franchise, and while I stand by that declaration, I also recognize that such a claim is not a minority opinion. The F13 fanbase is pretty unanimous in their adoration for that entry. So this year, I figured I'd do my best to ruffle some feathers by proclaiming Jason X as the second most enjoyable film in Mr. Voorhees' repertoire. I joyfully await your vehement disagreement in the comments section!
While most people would bemoan a shark-jumping stunt like sending your franchise into outer space, you can only really make that argument when the property was intelligent to begin with. For as much as I love the Friday the 13th films, they've never been terribly intelligent (in their construction. You can certainly dissect the mythical aspects and fairly simple social commentary of the films). And to be fair, when you're ten films deep into a franchise that has become notable for its nigh invincible villain and the creative ways in which he murders people, integrity is something you need to shelve.
If its detractors were able to get over the surface silliness of Jason X's setting, they'd find that the sequel actually does a few fresh and interesting things with the formula (other than its interstellar locale). I really love that there's a team of marines for Jason to plow through, giving him some tougher adversaries than just the usual crop of hormonal teenagers. Best of all is Sgt. Brodski (Peter Mensah), who is an actual foil for Jason, something the mass murderer has never had in any of these movies. The shot near the end of the film where the two of them are marching towards each other is legitimately cool.
And while the premise of the whole film is goofy, the filmmakers make good use of it by throwing Jason into a ton of new situations. The upgrade to Uber-Jason, the playful scenes on the holodeck, and the access to new weapons (the liquid nitrogen kill being the best, even if Jason's knowledge of how liquid nitrogen works doesn't make a lick of sense) gives the film an advantage over some of the more rote entries in the later parts of the series.
Is the movie dumb? Of course. I'd argue that every Friday the 13th film is dumb on some level, even the exceptional entries. At least Jason X never mishandles the giddily macabre nature of the series, and it certainly isn't boring, which is an argument I could make about a few films in the franchise. Plus, you get to see David Cronenberg get javelin-ed to death. What better way to spend this Monday the 13th?
Tomorrow, the sequels continue! And it's a pretty silly entry, just like today's. Hint: I'd never recommend Halloween: Resurrection. NEVER.
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