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Friday the 13th(2009)
Searching for his missing sister, Clay Miller heads up to the eerie woods of legendary Crystal Lake, where he stumbles on the creaky remains of rotting old cabins behind moss-covered trees. And that's not the only thing lying in wait under the brush. Against the advice of police and cautions from the locals, Clay pursues what few leads he has in the search for his missing sister, Whitney, with the help of Jenna, a young woman he meets among a group of college kids up for an all-thrills weekend. But they are all about to find much more than they bargained for. Little do they know, they've entered the domain of one of the most terrifying specters in American film history -- the infamous killer who haunts Crystal Lake, armed with a razor-sharp machete... Jason Voorhees.
For more about Friday the 13th and the Friday the 13th Blu-ray release, see Friday the 13th Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 15, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, Aaron Yoo, Derek Mears
Director: Marcus Nispel
» See full cast & crew
Friday the 13th Blu-ray Review
Jason Voorhees returns to his roots in Marcus Nispel's updated vision of a Horror classic.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 15, 2009
Kill for mother.
With remakes all the rage in Hollywood these past years, it seemed only inevitable that the granddaddy of the modern slasher killer, Jason Voorhees, would wind up returning to the silver screen not in yet another sequel or even a follow-up "versus" film, but rather as the centerpiece of a whole new beginning of lakeside terror. Chosen to helm the project was Marcus Nispel, the same director who breathed new life into what may be the quintessential update of a Horror franchise, 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Despite a slicker veneer and superior production values compared to its clunky early 1980s counterparts, the 2009 edition of Friday the 13th doesn't quite live up to its potential. At the end of the day, the film follows the same tired formula, though in its defense there is little room for growth outside the standard set-up that has seen the franchise through the majority of its numerous outings. Hack-and-slash, naked teenagers, blood, and a hockey mask has propelled the franchise to unparalleled heights, and Friday the 13th embraces the formula through-and-through and improves on a few of the previous films' weak points, though offering little benefit to the overall experience.
One June 13th, 1980, a bloody night of terror comes to an end when a scared yet determined teenager beheads Pamela Voorhees (Nana Visitor, TV's "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"), a crazed mother who punishes camp counselors for failure to properly watch over her son, Jason. Years later, Jason continues his mother's work, slaughtering several backpackers who stumble into his territory while searching for marijuana plants. Among the group is Whitney (Amanda Righetti), and six weeks later, her worried brother Clay (Jared Padalecki) is traveling the area on his motorcycle, searching for clues as to his sister's whereabouts and distributing flyers advertising Whitney's disappearance. He meets up with a group of teenage vacationers, among them Trent (Travis Van Winkle) and Jenna (Danielle Panabaker). A sympathetic Jenna chooses to help Clay search for his sister, and while doing so they stumble across Jason (Derek Mears) and find themselves in the middle of a killing spree at the hands of a seemingly unstoppable masked maniac.
Friday the 13th doesn't dismiss its roots but instead attempts to improve upon the lore. The film begins by condensing the entire backstory as seen in the original Friday the 13th and cuts to the meat-and-potatoes of the Jason-Jason's mother relationship that drives the character to kill. At the core of the entire franchise, Jason may be equated to a Grendel-style character that kills for vengeance and for the lack of a proper upbringing to allow him to distinguish right from wrong. The 2009 edition manages to capture the essence of the story in but a few minutes worth of screen time and continues on from there, the entirety of the picture centered around an adult Jason bent on revenge for the death of his mother. From there, the picture features plenty of winks, nods, and even some plot developments that recall the original films in the series while also expanding on the lore of Jason Voorhees. Perhaps its most interesting aspect is the journey into Jason's lair. Viewers will see the killer's collection of corpses and paraphernalia, some of which hearken back to the earlier films. Though the origins of both the machete and the mask are explored, the film begins with a throwback to Friday the 13th Part 2, featuring Jason covered in a white sack rather than the trademark hockey mask. Friday the 13th walks the fine line between straight remake and total re-imagining, and it does so fairly well. While the film features no single glaring weakness, it never manages to fully impress, either.
While Friday the 13th marches to the beat of a very familiar drum, it nobly attempts to better the experience in several areas. First and perhaps most importantly, the film doesn't waste the majority of the picture following the victims in a pointless exercise in "character development" futility that serves primarily to pad the runtime. For the most part, the characters in previous outings represented nothing more than disposable and interchangeable nobodies that existed only to serve as an outlet for Jason's frustrations. The 2009 Friday the 13th features kill after kill in the opening act, and the deaths serve dual purposes, establishing the tone of the film and giving audiences exactly what they come to see in a Friday the 13th picture from the get-go while also setting up the story that will frame the final two acts. Here, the character development at least ties two of the primaries together in a way that adds additional weight and import to the story. 2009's Friday the 13th manages to maneuver through familiar territory but does so in a way that doesn't engender quite the same feeling of déjà vu as Friday the 13th Part 2 and Friday the 13th Part 3, due in part to the superior production values but also to the improved characterization. By the time the film arrives at its climax, the remaining teens have been developed to the point where it's easy to root for their survival while the film remains appropriately clandestine as to who will live and die in the final minutes.
Although the 2009 edition of Friday the 13th outclasses its predecessors in atmosphere, intensity, and gore, these traits, which are found in abundance in Nispel's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, don't quite find the same level of bone-chilling and stomach-curdling nastiness here. Friday the 13th moves along at a brisk enough pace, but rarely does it capture the same sense of complete hopelessness and futility as Massacre. Whereas that film almost reinvented the genre with not only slick visuals and nasty gore but also a pacing and atmosphere that left the skin crawling and audiences cowering underneath their seats, Friday the 13th feels a bit generic and unpolished in comparison. The locations are never all that creepy; even Jason's lair takes on an uninviting but ultimately typical appearance. The other locations scattered about the Crystal Lake area -- Trent's house, a tool shed, or even the abandoned cabins -- add next to nothing to the atmosphere. Only Jason's hulking, grotesque presence lends uneasiness to the experience, but considering his is anything but a novel character, his presence alone does not make for a chilling atmosphere. As for the gore, it's ramped up here compared to the 1980s Friday pictures, though again it doesn't approach the same level as Massacre. Things start out promisingly enough with a nearly-amputated leg in a bear trap, a badly burned body, and a machete through the head, but the gore never goes much further than spouting blood and the usual Friday fare as seen in the previous pictures.
Friday the 13th Blu-ray, Video Quality
Friday the 13th slices into Blu-ray with a 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. Overall, this represents an adequate high definition transfer in most every area, though it is not without its drawbacks. Perhaps the most readily identifiable aspect of the transfer are the many scenes that seem unusually soft and blurred, several severely so. Such shots are not contained to a single scene or sequence but appear with some regularity throughout the entirety of the picture. Otherwise, most every facet of the transfer provides solid high definition viewing material. The many nighttime scenes offer appropriately dark blacks with only a slight push towards a shade of gray in a few shots. Detail suffices throughout; nothing stands out as perfectly realistic or intricately rendered, but clothing, tree bark, and the odds and ends scattered about Jason's lair or in the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake cabins reveal enough information to suit the dark mood of the picture. A few close-up shots of human faces appear somewhat smooth. The transfer features little in the way of noticeable grain or noise. Colors are adequately reproduced, though the dominant dark sequences don't allow the many hues to stand out. Daylight shots reveal strong colors in both clothing and foliage, and flesh tones never push too far towards an unnatural shade. Certainly not a demo-worthy transfer, this one is adequate in most every regard, though the many blurry shots are sure to distract even less-than-particular viewers.
Friday the 13th Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Friday the 13th screams onto Blu-ray with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Like the video quality, this Blu-ray soundtrack may be best described as "adequate yet underwhelming." This one relies primarily on the front soundstage with the back channels only chiming in here and there in support of music and minor atmospherics, such as the chorus of crickets in chapter eight. The film's action-oriented scenes deliver a strong presence across the entire range, from the crisp, piercing screams of the female victims to the deep bass of the musical accompaniment as heard during the kill scenes. Other sound effects of significance, the running motor of a wood-chipper for instance, fills the soundstage with both volume and a clear, aggressive presence. Dialogue delivery never falters. For the most part, however, Friday the 13th features a rather bland sound design that translates well to Blu-ray insofar as its faithfulness to the source, but this is certainly not the sort of material designed to sell sound systems.
Friday the 13th Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Friday the 13th arrives on Blu-ray with a few bonus features. First up is a Picture-in-Picture trivia track that features cast and crew discussing the themes of the picture, filming various sequences, the make-up effects, assembling the script, and more. Also included are plenty of text-based trivia facts about the universe surrounding the Friday the 13th franchise. The Rebirth of Jason Voorhees (1080p, 11:24) is a piece featuring cast and crew discussing more on the themes of the film, Jason's motivations, the make-up and props as seen in the film, and more. Also included here is the original "as intended" scene featuring Jason's discovery of the hockey mask. Hacking Back/Slashing Forward (1080p, 11:41) contains even more interview clips with cast and crew as they discuss their memories of the franchise and how this film restarts the series. The 7 Best Kills (1080p, 22:33) examines how the special effects wizards created the gruesome content for several murders seen in the film. Also included are several deleted scenes (1080p, 8:19) and BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) functionality. Disc two of this set contains a digital copy of Friday the 13th. The audio plays impressively, with sound swooping across both channels to nice effect, the entire presentation clear and accurate throughout. The image is nicely done for a digital copy, with good colors, adequate detail, and minimal blocking.
Friday the 13th Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Perhaps, it may be argued, comparing the Friday the 13th remake to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake as much as its own predecessors isn't quite fair, but with the success of Massacre comes only heightened anticipation for Friday the 13th, and while the film delivers Jason in what is probably his best movie yet in terms of production values, atmosphere, violence, and character development, the experience ultimately disappoints not necessarily in context but rather in expectation. A strong entry into the Friday the 13th universe but not quite as atmospheric or bloody as it may have been, the film works to a point but never distinguishes itself much from the pack outside of the technical improvements and somewhat superior character development. Warner Brothers' Blu-ray release of Friday the 13th, like the film, impresses, but not quite to the degree to which fans may have hoped. Featuring adequate video and audio presentations but skimping on bonus materials, the disc suffices but isn't a "must own." Nevertheless, hardcore Horror and Friday the 13th fans will want to pick this up on day one; most others will be better served renting or waiting for a sale.
Friday the 13th: Other Editions
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