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Jumper (2008)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/10/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Audio: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/4/2008

Of all genres, it seems that fans of science fiction are the most difficult to please. Stories which only contain a hint of sci-fi will most likely be deemed "lite" by true fans. However, sci-fi films with very detailed (some would say convoluted) stories, even popular ones such as Blade Runner or The Matrix, can be shunned by mainstream audiences as being too complex. It would seem that the Star Wars films are the only ones which can please a wide audience, but, of course, even those movies split fans. For me, the level of science-fiction involved in the movie isn't as important as a good story and action. I'm sure that many devoted sci-fi fans would deem Jumper as being sci-fi lite, but I found a film which balances a trippy idea and solid action.

Jumper tells the story of David Rice (Max Thieriot), a young man growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Life isn't easy for 15-year old David, as his mother left the family when he was five and his father is an angry man. David is picked on at school, mostly for his crush on Millie (AnnaSophia Robb). One day, David is involved in a deadly accident, but he saves himself by suddenly teleporting to the local library. Realizing that he can "jump" anywhere, David leaves home and moves to New York City.

The story then leaps ahead eight years. David (now played by Hayden Christensen) has mastered the power of "jumping". He uses his ability to rob banks and travel the world. He is very shocked when he's suddenly attacked by Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), a member of the Paladins, a group which hunts "Jumpers". David jumps back to Ann Arbor. There, he finds Millie (now played by Rachel Bilson) and whisks her away to Europe. Once in Rome, David gets another surprise: he's not the only "jumper". Griffin (Jamie Bell) tells David of the Paladins and their hatred of jumpers. Only wanting Millie to be safe, David attempts to convince Griffin that the two of them should take on the Paladins together.

Jumper comes from Director Doug Liman who previously made The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and he certainly hasn't lost his knack for creating exciting action sequences. Jumper contains two very good action set-pieces, the fight at the Roman Colloseum and the finale. Each of these could have easily been shot like scenes from any movie, but Liman was faced with the challenge of having characters who can disappear and instantly re-appear in another place. This leads to some very interesting shots which make the scenes anything but ordinary. I especially liked the final battle where the jumpers really explore their powers and get very creative with their idea of "weapons".

The overall tone of Jumper is intriguing as well. Knowing that the film is based on a young adult novel (which I haven't read), I didn't know what to expect from the film. I was surprised by the way in which David approaches his powers. There's no "With great power comes great responsibility" idea here. David uses jumping to take what he wants and go where he wants. Even the notion that jumping causes damage to anything in the vicinity (which is a very cool concept) doesn't bother David. If he's a super-hero, then he's a very self-centered one. It's not until he realizes that people which he cares for are in danger that David decides to use his powers for something other than greed. David's approach to life may seem reprehensible, but let's face it, if we could jump, we'd jump where we weren't supposed to. Also, the film treats jumping as a very organic occurrence and never makes any attempts to explain this phenomenon. The movie simply asks us to accept this idea.

While Jumper offers some nice action sequences and radical morals, there is definitely something missing from the film. The 88-minute running time allows for good fight scenes, but it leaves the movie short on story. I walked away from Jumper with more questions than answers. As noted above, the movie doesn't explain how David can jump, but I must ask, why David? Why does he go to the library the first time? I had expected the movie to tell us that David would read to escape from everyday life, but that's never mentioned. When the movie leaps ahead to the present, we learn little about David's everyday life, other than he jumps a lot. We also learn nothing about the Paladins or Griffin. And the door is not only left for a sequel, but the movie practically invites us to sit down and wait for another movie.

Jumper is a decidedly mixed bag. I really liked the action sequences and the film's approach to super powers. Yet, I also felt that a great deal was missing from the movie (and the answers weren't in the deleted scenes included here). The oft-maligned Christensen is fine here, and Jamie Bell certainly adds a spark to the movie. If you can ignore the fact that Jumper isn't interested in giving us any answers, you will find a serviceable and entertaining sci-fi/action movie.

Jumper suddenly appears on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image here is very sharp and clear, as the picture shows practically no grain and no defects from the source material. The image is highly detailed and has a very nice depth -- the landscape shots are gorgeous. The colors are good, most notably brighter shades. The picture is never overly dark or bright. I noted no video noise or artifacting. The Disc offers a DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This track runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track delivers constant stereo and surround effects. The "jump" sound effect ripples through the speakers and the finale surround the viewer with audio effects, which the subwoofer accents every punch and explosion. Overall, this is a solid transfer.

The Jumper Blu-ray Disc contains a nice assortment of extras. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Doug Liman, Writer/Producer Simon Kinberg, and Producer Lucas Foster. In the commentary, the three speakers devote a lot of time to discussing the story and how it differs from the novel. The scene-specific chat focuses on locations, FX, story and actors. Liman isn't shy about discussing the fact that the movie is radically different form the book. The talk never gets too technical and the stories about location shooting are quite good. "Jumpstart: David's Story" (8 minutes) is an animated graphic novel which shows a subplot which isn't explored in the film. "Jumping Around the World" is a series of vignettes which focus on 11 different jumpsites shown in the film. Picture-in-Picture equipped Blu-ray Disc players can access these shorts while watching the film. Otherwise, one can choose points from a world map. "Doug Liman's Jumper: Uncensored" (36 minutes) contains in-depth interviews with Liman, as well as comments from the cast and crew. We get a great deal of behind-the-scenes footage showing the filming of many different scenes. "Making an Actor Jump" (8 minutes) shows how the jump effects were designed, starting with test footage. We then get behind-the-scenes footage of hwo doubles and visual effects were combined the create the look of the film. "Jumping From Novel to Film: The Past, Present and Future of Jumper" (8 minutes) contains comments from author Stephen Gould, who gives his thoughts on the novel. We then learn how the movie differs from the book and how the filmmakers built upon the novel. The Disc contains six DELETED SCENES, which run about 11 minutes. Some of these are new scenes and some are extended versions of scenes in the movie, but none of them bring in additional info to fill in the plotholes in the movie. The final extra is "Previz: Future Concepts" (5 minutes), which is simply a reel of animatics for various scenes.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long