Ronny Yu wastes no time getting to the action. Rather than having some kind of suggestive beginning, Robert Englund actually comes on screed in full Freddy Krueger make-up and speaks directly to the camera bringing us up to speed on his history like the narrator on the 1966 Batman! Look, if you don't know about Freddy's history with Elm Street and the kids of Springwood then you need not apply to this movie. It is nice to see this recap in some ways though because not only are scenes from the previous seventeen million Freddy Movies shown, but also new footage is added (a damn sight better than what we got in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare or even the T.V. series Freddy's Nightmares). In a nutshell, Freddy patiently tells the audience that because Springwood has removed evidence of his existence, people are no longer afraid of him, and are no longer dreaming of him, so he finds a powerful soul that is easily resurrected to terrorize the kids of Elm Street (thus reawakening memories of Freddy). That soul, of course, is that of Jason Voorhees (whose back story we also get again with Freddy's narration, sounding more like Jafar from Alladin than Peter Graves). As fans of the Friday the Thirteenth series might remember, only Jason's mother has any influence on him, so Freddy impersonates her (or Phyllis Diller, I'm not clear on that) to get Jason out of Hell, out of Crystal Lake, and into Elm Street, Springwood, USA!
Also in the "wasting no time" category, within the first five minutes a beautiful woman is completely naked (YAY!) and within two minutes after that she's dead (BOO!) at the hands of Jason! Oh, Jason's back all right (but this time being played by Ken Kirzinger instead of smiling Kane Hodder) and he seems to be succeeding in doing just what Momma Freddy wants him to do... but what happens if Jason won't stop killing and there's no one for Freddy to play with? What happens if Jason finds out someone's impersonating his "sainted" mother? What if Ronny Yu never works again?
To keep the movie from being a rotten flesh slug fest a sub-plot featuring a group of teens revolving around Lori (Monica Keena) and Will (Jason Ritter). Both kids have a barely understood history with Freddy and both kids (and about 40 others at the pre-requisite teen party) meet Jason! Most noteable in the group is Kia, played by Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland. She proves that there is more to life than Beyonce Knowles and she never seems like anything but an actress... bravo! There are some interesting moments here like Freddy's impersonation of the smoking caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland to off a stoner, and Jason's fiery rampage through a corn field. While in Jason X (seemingly a follower of this film in the continuity) we saw an Uber-Jason, in one dream sequence we see a Super-Freddy that truly has to be seen to be believed! Wow! On the other hand this entry every bit as corny as the other movies. It's all in good fun though!
Naturally there are a few Gregory Benford Moments and several ridiculous occasions of gratuitous violence and nudity, but let's get real, this is the culmination of two series who built a reputation on stuff like this! If you're expecting The Sixth Sense you might be disappointed. If you're expecting Boggy Creek 2 And the Legend Continues you'll be pleasantly surprised. There are a lot of interesting moments here, like the re-introduction of "Hypnocil," the dream-deprivation drug introduced in the third Freddy Movie. Here's it's used to keep the remaining kids who remember Freddy isolated and without influence on the kids who've never heard of his burned butt. The inclusion of several classic Freddy Krueger moments helps also, and some added dimensions to the so commonly flat Jason Voorhees develops interest in both characters. The fight scenes are clever, effectively creepy and sometimes (in Freddy fashion) quite funny! Also, as lame as the plot is from time to time, it actually does make sense. It's silly, but not an insult to the Audience's intelligence (most of the time).
On the other hand, the humor based on death gets a little annoying. In my review for Desperado I mentioned how bloody movies in the 1990's were. Well, partner, the '90's are back! There is more Karo syrup laced with red dye in this film than you could shake a hypodermic at! There are more implausible parts in this film than in a Libertarian Health Care Plan. Call me a relic, call me what you will, but I found the whole notion of picking sides here rather distasteful. The film goes into great detail to show that both of these monsters are child killers, yet it's clear that we're supposed to be rooting for one or both of them at various times. Luckily the kids in the film aren't altogether unlikable, so there's someone to root for, especially when they start manipulating the situation to their own satisfaction. To this end, the kids prove that Crystal Lake is within driving distance from Springwood. This made me think, Man, what is wrong with this area! I wonder how far away Michael Myers from the Halloween movies is. Although there are some interesting surprises and shocks, I didn't find this movie to be particularly "scary!" Then again, my idea of scary isn't really red mists of blood and featureless maniacs. I thought Danny DeVito's Mathilda and Alexander Payne's About Schmidt were two of the scariest movies I've ever seen, so make your own judgments!
Over forty years prior to this movie two screen titans clashed in King Kong vs. Godzilla. In the USA version Kong won, but in Japan Gojira won. I expected something similar, and maybe just an unbroken tie. Fortunately there was no such cop out. Was there a clear cut winner? Oh, yes! Are both series still open for more sequels? Well, Jason went to Hell and Freddy died at least once each in previous movies so... you tell me. As to who the winner is, I certainly am not saying, but I will say that the film makers made the ending actually work and not feel like a lame cop out. Die hard fans of one series over another might be annoyed, but I think in general it will have made sense.
Three stars for Freddy Versus Jason! It's a silly little horror movie with decent acting, great action, and only flaws that we've forgiven before if we've watched more than the first three of each series. There is some excellent nudity, but it's clear that the skin was intended to patch plot holes. There are continuity issues if you're trying to follow this as part of either series as a whole, but like I said, it's all in good fun, and it's only a movie! In the Easter Egg Category, watch as the new Sheriff (how many has Springwood had now?) pushes the photos of the killings into his desk drawer. Look closely and you'll see the mask of Ghost Face from "that other Wes Craven Series" known as Scream! I wonder where Springwood is. All the women there are apparently beautiful! My High School never looked like this, but then we didn't have to worry about slashers and pissed of goalies either. I wonder if Michael Myers gets to fight the winner!