Jason X is presented in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 Ė it has also been enhanced for 16x9 TVís.
Iíll admit I didnít know what to expect in regards to the picture quality. While I was reasonably certain it would be decent considering its a relatively new film, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that its pretty close to one of the best looking DVDís Iíve seen. Just listen to the audio commentary and watch the Ďmaking ofí feature and youíll quickly understand why. While Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones has the bragging right of being the first digitally filmed movie, Jason X was the first to be shot on film and then transferred in its entirety to digital high definition.
While many films will transfer segments of a movie over to a computer in order to work on the special effects scenes, Jason X was transferred over to computer completely. In doing so, the film makers had complete control over the film and had the luxury of being able to do everything from colour correction to compositing. Admittedly, the results are amazing. While Jason X isnít exactly a showpiece to demonstrate the power of DVD to your friends, itís looks absolutely fabulous none the less. No grain, speckles, artifacts, scratches, dirt, grit or another other defects were noticed during the viewing. In fact, itís virtually perfect in every way.
For a Friday the 13th film I was also very surprised by the colour. Instead of the usual gritty earth tones we usually get, Jason X gives us lots of vibrant blues, yellows, greens and reds. Theyíre everywhere in the film Ė and they look great. The shear brilliance of the colour surprised even me. Black levels were also nice - and when combined with the bright colours made for a beautiful looking feature. Not a single thing to complain about here.
Trying to keep up with the sensational picture was a great selection of audio tracks. For serious audio buffs, Jason X provides both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS. Thereís also a Stereo Surround track Ė and English Subtitles. For the sake of this review I chose to listen to the movieís DTS track.
Like the picture, the sound is simply awesome. Right from the onset the track makes fantastic use of all speakers. The intro music plays through the room and is as active in the rear as it is up front. Rear surrounds are also worked heavily during scenes with gunfire, alarm systems, beeping and bleeping computer terminals and explosion. What really made me happy was the great rumbling that came from the subwoofer. It was clear and precise without becoming excessive. While I love the subwoofer, I often find myself dashing across the room to adjust the volume when action gets intense and the sub damn near rumbles my house down to the floor. With this audio track you get great bass response without things becoming overwhelming and distracting. Spaceship engines rumble nicely and even while in the corridors of the spacecraft you could always hear the subtlety of running engines. It was great Ė and overall I was very please with the sound.
As the DVD offers superb picture and sound, one expects the supplemental material to be equally good. Jason X doesnít offer heaps of extras like some other DVDís, but does none the less offers an above average amount of content.
First up is a screen specific audio commentary provided by Jim Isaac, Todd Farmer and Noel Cunningham - the films director, writer and producer respectively. Overall the 3 men are extremely vocal and interesting throughout a majority of this feature. Given the nature of the film, the men provide a fun and informative commentary rather and a serious and uptight one. Jason X is intended to be a fun movie, and knowing that - they have fun during their recording session.
They talk a lot about the work that went into getting the project off the ground and the different ideas they ran through before settling on Jason in space. They also discuss the larger number of special effects sequences they worked on during the film. As you have probably witnessed, most Friday the 13th films have little or no effects outside of the blood and gore. This being the case, the 3 men talk in great depth about working with the special effects people at Toy Box and the advantages in having the film transferred to digital HD.
Overall the commentary was enjoyable and entertaining. It wasnít the greatest Iíve ever heard, but it was still above average. The only thing I noticed was that the commentary didnít really follow what was going on during the film. They pretty much just spoke of whatever crossed their minds. This isnít to say they never involved themselves in what was happening on screen, they just didnít shy away from running with a given topic.
Second we get a documentary style feature entitled Ė The Many Lives of Jason Voorhees, it runs for 29 minutes and 52 seconds. While the title seems to imply that we would follow the history of the character Jason from the first film to the most recent, thatís not really what this segment is about. In fact, much of it is comprised of interviews and comments. We get to hear from a few of the Friday the 13th film directors, including the creator and director of the first film Ė Sean Cunningham. We also hear from film critics, Fangoria magazine editors and even some fans. Overall they cover a lot of ground and discuss many facets of the series.
The various interviewees talk about the number of people Jason has killed during the 10 films and the huge array of implements heís used to dispose of them. On a related level they also discuss the mediaís hatred of the series and how Friday the 13th films have been unfairly linked to real world violence.
Changing gears, we also get to spend some time with Kane Hodder, the man who has played Jason in the last 4 films. He talks about the enjoyment he gets in playing the character and we also get to watch him interact with fans at a horror movie convention.
In the end, this great segment covers many issues related to both Jason and Friday the 13th. While it tries to nail down the reason behind the popularity of the series, it never really succeeds. The fact is, no one really know why itís lasted for all these year. Some things just defy explanation. As it stands, my own interest in the series made this feature seem both informative and captivating. Very enjoyable.
Next up we have Ė By Any Mean Necessary: The Making of Jason X. This addition runs for 17 minutes and 28 seconds and covers many elements involved in the production of the film. Primarily it covers the film makers desire to take Jason in some new direction Ė and how they eventually decided on the idea of Jason in space.
We also get to see how the film was transferred to Digital HD in order to accommodate the large amount of effects shots they had planned. We witness how shots were composited together and how green screens, CG and models were used to give the film its futuristic appearance. Another great addition was seeing the design work for Uber-Jason and the planning that went into creating his new look. While the segment isnít incredibly long, it still packs in a great deal of behind the scenes footage and offers lots of interesting information.
Next up we get Ė Jump to a Death. As the name implies, this feature allows the viewers to jump straight onto a scene with someone getting killed. You can choose to watch any one of 16 different murders, some of the scenes also include multiple murders that take place in close succession. You can also view the scenes individually, or choose to play them all. While itís nothing particularly special, itís a cool addition if you want to show a friend a particular kill without have to find a particular moment within the chapter selections.
Next up is the filmís theatrical trailer. What can you say here Ė itís the trailer.
Last on our list of special features we get more New Line chills and thrills. Technically this has nothing at all to do with Jason X and is simply promotional material providing us with trailers for Blade 2, Final Destination and A Nightmare on Elm St.
When all is said and done, Jason X is an exceptional DVD, and to answer the question I posed at the beginning of this review - itís called ďJason EcksĒ not ďJason 10Ē Ė even though it is indeed part 10. Confused yet?
As I was saying, this is a great DVD. The picture quality is fantastic, the sound is immersive and the special features are copious. From that standpoint I was very impressed with this disc. However, the film itself is somewhat of a mixed bag. While Jason X isnít the worst in the Friday the 13th series, itís not the best either. While it offers a reasonably fresh take on the series and presents some big changes to the character of Jason, itís fundamentally the same thing weíve seen 9 times before.
Jason kills, Jason kills again, someone kills Jason, Jason springs back to life and kills some more, Jason gets killed a final time - then Jason returns in Jason part XI.
While hardcore Friday the 13th fans or horror fans will probably get a kick out of the film and undoubtedly enjoy the exceptional quality of the DVD, casual horror fans would probably regret the purchase. Itís a good rental for a night of frightening fun, but only serious fans should consider taking this DVD home for good. The bottom line is Ė itís a great DVD, but a mediocre movie.