The youngest generation of Freddy and Jason fans have no idea how long we, the original fans of the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises, waited for this movie to become a reality. We dared to dream of this monster match-up back in the mid-1980s, years before development actually began; that development, as we all know, went through all manner of scripts and writers and producers and directors and basically but the kitchen sink over the course of eleven years. When New Line took over the Friday the 13th franchise, the first sparks of belief were born from the fiery ashes of hope, and the ending of Jason Goes to Hell sent us into tremors of excitement. We waited, and waited some more. New Line also waited - waited for a script that would join these two distinctive storylines in a way acceptable to both the studios and, most importantly, the fans. Freddy vs. Jason, in my opinion, was more than worth the wait, and I thank New Line for caring enough about the characters and their fans to wait until they had a script we could all buy into and respect.
I love this movie. It has everything I would have asked for: gratuitous nudity (well, I might have added a little more of it); an acceptable number of kills and the blood and gore to go with them; insights into the "births" of both Jason and Freddy; a return to basics for Freddy himself, veering him away from his stand-up comedy career of later Elm Street films yet retaining his wickedly sarcastic wit; an interesting cast of characters I enjoyed seeing die one by one; and of course both a home and away match for our two star attractions. It also has plenty of an oftentimes wet Monica Keena, and the fact that she remained clothed throughout the film only made her that much sexier. You've got plenty of action at Crystal Lake as well as Freddy's boiler room turf, and the premise of the film works very well. How to bring Jason and Freddy together? That was always the crux of the matter, and the assorted scriptwriters who worked on the story over the years came up with some ridiculous ideas that would never have worked. Damion Shannon and Mark Swift deserve kudos for discarding all the old ideas that continued to cling to the project and giving us a darn good script. We all know that Freddy draws his power from the fear of his victims, but he has suddenly been forgotten. The adults of Springwood have erased Freddy and his activities from the collective history of the town, and those kids who know Freddy and fear him have all been shipped to an asylum and deprived of the ability to dream via drug therapy. Freddy has been made too weak to come back, and so he selects Jason Voorhees to go to Elm Street and spread fear anew. His plan works, as the authorities let Freddy's name slip out, and with each of Jason's kills, Freddy grows stronger. This leads us to the second critical aspect of the plot: why would Jason and Freddy fight one another? Once Freddy's back, he doesn't take kindly to Jason claiming all of his own would-be victims - obviously, the guy in the hockey mask needs to learn who the boss really is. And so the rumble begins, a fight brought over into the real world thanks to the kids of Elm Street who work things out and intentionally place Jason in Freddy's path.
I thought all of the young actors did a great job, even though a couple of characters were not fleshed out as much as they might have been. Freddy is his old self again, witty but downright vicious, and Jason is his single-minded murdering self. I had a hard time deciding who to pull for, though. I love Freddy because he takes the time to enjoy tormenting his victims before killing them, but you have to admire the one-man killing machine that is Jason Voorhees. I think there was plenty of fighting between the two at the end, and I approved of the ending. You can argue about the victor of the fight, but clearly (whether or not a rematch ever occurs) the fight ain't exactly over just yet.
The DVD is fantastic, filled with all sorts of goodies. I actually started wondering when the featurettes on the making of the film would ever end - there is an amazing amount of material here. Another wonderful addition was the two-part Fangoria article detailing the wild history of this long-awaited film; I could not believe some of the ridiculous ideas espoused by earlier script writers; had New Line made this film earlier than they did, they would very likely have doomed both the Jason and Freddy franchises. The Ill Nino video for "How Can I Live" is fun to watch, although I was disappointed it did not feature any movie clips (and thus no Monica Keena). Best of all, though, you get a number of deleted/alternate scenes as well as an audio commentary of the film by director Ronny Yu, Robert Englund (Freddy), and Ken Kirzinger (Jason) - England sort of dominates the conversation, but his excitement about the film is palpable. Yu was an interesting choice as director, but I think he did a fine job; I was especially fascinated to learn how much of an impact early screenings of the film with test audiences affected the final cut - Yu knew that the fans were more knowledgeable than he was on the subject at hand and rightly deferred to their opinions when they made plain the fact that certain elements of the first cut just would not fly.