Freddy Vs Jason Blu-ray Review
Well, Satanic Wrestle-fans, the big smackdown comes to Canadian Blu-ray via MPEG-4 and shows off the original 2.35:1 image in quite spectacular form.
The edge-enhancement on that SD edition - forget it. The smeared and prone-to-bleeding colours and less-than vital blacks - all rectified here, folks, with a transfer that is remarkably vivid, clean and brimming with detail. DNR is not a problem either. Film grain, though pretty thin and slight, is still intact. Some very minor banding seems to occur against the grey or lighter backgrounds, such as kitchen walls or asylum corridors, and I did detect some faint motion-drag a couple of times but, once again, marginal at worst. The source print is in fine condition and the encode seems to have got by without any digital hiccups.
Detail and three-dimensionality are constantly impressive. Many shots of the streets, of the woods, of the roadway during Jason's virtual kidnapping and, especially of the cornfield-rave have tremendous depth to them that really enhances the image and its atmospherics. Shots of early victims sitting on their porch, as seen from a distance, or their view looking down the vast garden are greatly defined and offer a quite expansive image. Close-ups are often incredibly strong, with Freddy's harrowing countenance and Jason's muck and blood spattered hockey mask taking the awards. Facial detail on those not so ugly is also very impressive, with some good lash and lip delineation, skin-texture may be variable, but is still mostly quite revealing and authentic. Eyes definitely shine and teeth definitely gleam. The weaponry, too, is pretty well defined, as are the grievous wounds that they inflict. Arterial spraying is crystal clear and individual blood-spurts are tight and vivid. The leaves on the deck aren't quite as incredibly defined as those seen in the bench-mark The Brothers Grimm, but there is still a lot of separation and detail going on. The pipes and railings, lockers and gantries in Freddy's lair are decently presented, even more so when you consider that they are usually bathed in shadow and the orange ambience of the flambéed-frightmaster, himself. The cornfield offers another clear and immediate visual upgrade over the SD edition, with good definition and depth and great colours amid the shadows. One or two shots may appear a little softer than others, but this is almost certainly down to the original source and not a lapse in the 1080p encoding.
Colours are where this image really shines though. The aforementioned RGB scenes, in which the characters are swathed entirely in any one of the three primaries, look great and betray no banding or slow filtering, and detail is not compromised either. Elsewhere, colours are splendidly reproduced with no trace of overstepping their subject's boundaries. Hair, clothes, furnishings etc, all look captivating and the image has that high-production sheen to it that most modern slashers - One Missed Call, Prom Night - have adopted. Basically, the picture looks quite comic-book inspired, with sharply announced hues and a full-on palette copiously employed. But, my friends, it is the blood that matters - and, here, the transfer excels. Be it pumping stumps, gut-gushings, wall-redecorating jets of the stuff or squelchy skewerings, FvJ's disc won't disappoint. The gore is often bright, but there is still a thick richness to it that looks deliciously ughhhh and, when seen in subdued light has a great shine to it - such as the pool leaking out from the head of the poor sanatorium guard (and there are precious few of them around when seemingly everybody attempts to break into the joint) after Jason has squashed him with a steel door.
And you will find that shadows are deep and consistent, but allow for detail to be seen within them. Blacks across the board are strong and contrast is fine, too, although you will experience a few a white-outs when the lightning strikes fill the screen. But this also happened on the SD disc, as well, so is definitely a part of the print, itself.
All in all, Freddy vs Jason has been brought to this bare-bones disc with a very noticeable improvement to its video image, and the film now looks vibrant and fully rendered in high-definition. A strong and bloody 8 out of 10.
And, hey, the good news doesn't end with the video transfer, either. Equipped with a striking DTS-HD 5.1 track, Freddy Vs Jason sounds just as good as it looks.
This is a film that thrives on musical and FX-stingers and they are all pumped-up, exhilarating and brashly rendered by a track that utilises the full set-up and packs quite a wallop when the limbs start flying. One minor complaint to get out of the way first is that the dialogue during the scene when we first meet the girls seems to be out by a noticeable split-second, with mouths not quite in-synch with the words emanating from them. Now, whilst this doesn't last and nor does it seem to affect the lads who subsequently turn up, I'm not sure if this also affects the SD disc. Either way, this is nothing major and certainly not enough to put anyone off what is actually a very dynamic and exciting audio transfer.
There is a nice wide spread across the front and this allows for some great steerage and placement of voices, car doors, screams etc, as well some smartly directed sliding stingers - from right to left, and from left to right - that are always sharply handled. The horror movie's best audio companion, the storm, is also employed by Ronnie Yu, and the DTS-HD allows the one here to rip across the speakers with some fury. Crackles of lightning and belching thunder reverberate and the sound of rain cascades quite realistically into the room. The odd gunshot is nicely handled and the sound of Jason beating on an innocent steel door is authentically muffled and not over-egged. The sound of breaking glass and of Freddy's claws scratching along railings is subtly detailed and the multiple hack 'n' slashery of flesh is treated with neat little audible gougings and icky “thunks!” Oh, and watch out for the sudden rapping on the window of the van - it made me jump and I was expecting it!
Revell's score is warmly reproduced and the many grinding and sizzling synth effects he employs come over well and with some degree of aggression. The orchestral side of things may not be as detailed, but the sweep that it generates is still very welcome. The rave in the field has that pumping energy that may well disturb the neighbours - if the copious screams haven't already. And the really great thing is that the sub is given a fair bit to do, as well. Bodily impacts, a car-crash and then, of course, the BIG explosion have a real sense of power and weight to them, and this helps ground the movie with a dynamism that, until recently, horror movies tended not to bother with. But Yu's background in action probably helped nudge FvJ into ever more wild necessities - such as the compressed-air bombardment that Jason takes on the chin, well, on his chest, actually. Indeed, the finale is where the track really comes to life, bringing all the speakers into play and building up its aural flair to a crescendo that is highly satisfying. We have lots of shattering wood, rattling steel, a massive metal bin on a chain that clangs enormously into the walls, a rolling dumper-car and more blade-into-meat sound effects than you can count - and it all sounds great.
The disc also has a DD 5.1 option that is actually the default track, but this is nowhere near as interesting or exciting a sound design as the DTS-HD. So, great picture for the slapdash slasher-thon and, now, great sound too. Another very strong 8 out of 10, with just some lack of finesse in the rear support and that mismatched speech earlier on to pull things down a bit.
Ooh, now here's where the good stuff ends, I'm afraid. Alliance's Canadian disc comes with nothing - zip, nada - in the extras department. Not a commentary. Not even any EPK pap, or a trailer to be seen. Which is a shame, as the Special Edition DVD was none too shabby with its bonus material.
Surprisingly enjoyable, Ronny Yu's bad-guy bunk-up ticks off all the requirements for a project as patently silly as this. It is filled with idiots that you just want to see dying in bloody, excruciating agony and it blissfully ignores plot coherence and characterisation as if they carried the plague. The film was very successful when it came out theatrically and this is because it knew that audiences had long since stopped taking either of the two villains seriously and only came for love of carnage - and, on this level, FvJ more than delivers. Whilst never actually even remotely scary, some of the imagery involving Freddy's kids is disturbing, but the film is much more fun than you think.
Alliance's bare-bones release disappoints only because it has none of the extra features that have graced the movie's SD editions. But, on the plus side, I would have no reservations in recommending this BD disc as the AV upgrade is well worth it. The picture throbs with eager-to-please vitality and the sound provides plenty of bang for your buck.
For fans, this is the ubiquitous no-brainer. For everyone else ... well, it all depends on how much you like the notion of a franchise crossover that is, let's be honest, merely a commercial exercise. For me this is over-the-top gory fun and a nice stepping-stone in the renaissance of a once-vilified, yet hugely influential sub-genre.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £16.11
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