- The Washington Times - Friday, April 26, 2002

"Jason X" is shorthand for the 10th installment in the "Friday the 13th" horror series. Introduced in 1980, the jocular bloodcurdlers were almost annual fixtures during the ensuing decade. A ninth chapter, "Jason Goes to Hell," failed to renew overwhelming enthusiasm in 1993.
Chapter 10, slipping in a week before the first glut of the summer season, turns to science fiction as a possible franchise saver. It might as well be titled "Jason in the 25th Century."
Jason is an unkillable mass murderer named Jason Voorhees. He began as something of a youthful fall guy but quickly became a supernatural scourge, characterized by trademark props: a hockey goalie's mask to shield a disfigured face and a machete, his lethal weapon of choice.
For the past few movies, he has been impersonated by a former stuntman, Kane Hodder, whose hulking tendencies are so exaggerated during the final stages of "Jason X" that the producers call this bulked-up and digitally enhanced caricature "Uber-Jason."
Chained more securely than about 10 Harry Houdinis as the prologue begins, Jason threatens to go on a fresh rampage in roughly the year 2000.
However, he is being held for observation at a pseudo-scientific lab, the Crystal Lake Research Facility, perversely located near the site of his original atrocities. There he is maneuvered into a cryogenic chamber by intrepid staffer Rowan (Lexa Doig).
It appears a clever lifesaving gambit, but the daring Rowan is gravely injured and caught in the freezing process. The plot leapfrogs to 2455, when a team of explorers discovers the chamber and transfers the specimens to a spaceship called Grendel, en route to an orbiting station called Solaris.
Earth, it seems, became uninhabitable during the fade-out. The plot synopsis blames global warming and toxic pollution, the usual suspects. However, the movie doesn't dwell on any cause-and-effect explanation for terrestrial calamity.
The illustration makes it look as if Earth must have been conned into changing places with one of the other planets, subject to continuous punishment by a tempestuous atmosphere.
The realization of what must have been a mighty exodus from the planet also is treated with lofty neglect. Given the chuckleheaded consistency of the Grendel crew, it's a little difficult to credit them with such a feat.
Anyway, the science-fiction angle is useful mainly for scavenging this and that from James Cameron's "Aliens." After reviving and reanimating Rowan (we're told that such resurrections became medical child's play a century earlier), the rescuers get careless where the frozen Jason is concerned.
Inadvertently reanimated, he makes unsightly debris of the cutest blonde on the spaceship, then methodically eliminates the security force. This preliminary wipeout leaves only surviving scientists and student interns, who tend to be brazen young women favoring peekaboo tops and bare midriffs.
The settings and props, reflecting a makeshift studio in Toronto and a less-than-lavish budget, tend to be barely adequate. The cast clearly is making do with limited space and big plastic toy guns. One might suspect downright favoritism when it comes to making slaughter easier for Jason.
The best futuristic brainstorm turns out to be an android called KM-14, eventually programmed to outrival Lara Croft at martial prowess and aggression.
Lisa Ryder has a very amusing handle on this identity. There's also something to be said for the onboard virtual-reality chamber, a device evidently lifted from "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider."
Ordinarily a training facility for the ill-fated grunts, the chamber is exploited to confuse Jason down the stretch by simulating the Crystal Lake location circa 1980. Accentuating the ridiculous, the filmmakers even tantalize Jason with a pair of virtual teen sluts, fearlessly embodied by Kaye Penaflor and Tania Maro.
The filmmakers also resort to inside jokes. It remains to be seen whether the jokers will end up amusing themselves far more than an eagerly sadistic and/or nostalgic movie audience.
The very existence of "Jason X" illustrates one of the wearier decadent aspects of pop culture at the turn of the century: the refusal of any once-successful franchise to call it a day and simply rest on disreputable laurels.
I have no doubt that the "Friday the 13th" apparatus will insist on stringing out its meal ticket until at least a Chapter 13.

* 1/2

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