"Jumper" Blu-ray Review
June 03, 2008 by Zach Demeter
From the very first trailer I knew I wanted to see Jumper. It’s not only that it fueled my fanboy desire to see Star Wars actors in a film together (and this time it’s Jackson kicking Christensen around!), but it just genuinely looked like a fun film to waste some time with. At the same time I knew that the film was going to be a giant failure because that’s just the nature of it—it looked too much like a movie that didn’t know whether to be serious or comedic, so it was obvious that Jumper was going to be a critical failure, but it’s eventual box office intake of $220 million worldwide made back its budget two and a half times, giving hope that a more serious sequel might possibly get underway someday.
After being put in a very troubling situation, teenager David Rice (Hayden Christensen) discovered he had the ability to teleport himself anywhere he wanted. With this newfound ability David leaves his broken home, that contains a drunken father and a mother that left when he was five, and begins to rob banks as he needs the revenue. Always intending to pay it back, David eventually finds out that he’s not the only “jumper” around and that an ancient religious cult called the Paladins were responsible for hunting and killing all of the jumpers through the hundreds of years. With this new knowledge and a partner in tow, David sets out to save his family and girlfriend, Millie (Rachel Bilson), from the ruthless Roland (Samuel L. Jackson).
It’s a cookie cutter plot if there ever was one. Boy finds new ability and leaves behind the woman he loves (apparently, anyway—their relationship as teenagers is so brief, one wonders if the interactions the two had were simply because Millie felt pity for David at the time), only to return at a later time to try to win her back. The whole film seems kind of awkward at times with the pacing and storytelling and quite honestly the more I think about it the more of a mess it becomes, but that’s just the type of film Jumper is—low on plot and high on cool visuals and action.
In a way the film feels like an amped up TV special, but I don’t know what’s really causing that response. Usually I can place my finger on the cause, but in Jumper’s case, there’s nothing screaming out that it shouldn’t be a big motion picture, but there’s nothing that’s really keeping it tied to that area either. It’s a strange feeling to watch Jumper for that reason alone, but if you can get past that element and just enjoy it for what it is, then it becomes a fun summer action flick with a tad of romance on the side.
Those worried that Christensen can’t act need not to worry. He’s been perfecting the whiney, troubled youth role since Attack of the Clones and it seems to be finally become fleshed out here. Not to mock Christensen because I really think he’s a fine actor that’s just suckered with some horrible dialogue at times, but it’s so easy to poke and prod him for the career choices he’s made. I guess that’s what comes with playing Darth Vader—endless ridicule. Still, despite not seeing him in too many roles, it’s nice to see that the ones he does take (this film and also the recent Awake) aren’t half-assed. He at least puts forth a solid effort into his roles and when paired with the always-entertaining Samuel L. Jackson and the adorable Rachel Bilson make for a solid cast round out, with Diane Lane making strangely few appearances in the film for such a high profile actor.
There are a few neat twists that you figure out for yourself along the way that may seem like some confusing plot hole mess (the whole Diane Lane was David’s father took getting used to and still seemed a bit fuzzy even after the end of the movie, until you finally realize how and why she popped up in the film in the first place) and others that are just a mess to begin with. It’s not a tightly written film, but like I said before, it’s just fun to watch.
The settings and visuals in particular are the biggest treat in the film. While it looks like it might use large amounts of green screen, the majority of the film is all shot on-location, making what could have been a very cheesy feeling film all that much more real. The jumping effects in both visual and sound are quite remarkable as well, with the varying amounts of damage that they can cause. I don’t even want to think about how some of the jumps were made, as they start to make even less sense, but the transportations that jumper Griffin (Jamie Bell) did were quite remarkable at times, especially the car ride through Tokyo. Which still doesn’t make sense why they had that, other than that it was cool to do.
Overall Jumper could have been much more and should it get a sequel, I have a feeling it could take a much darker turn in terms of tone than this one had. Despite coming from a broken home, David never really comes off as entirely upset and his constant stealing of money seems to be a bit odd; he’s the hero and yet is the bank robber, but it’s OK because he has people trying to kill him anyway. It’s a bit wishy-washy in that respect, but it’s something that could be easily ironed out if they continue the “superhero team up” angle that was started in this film.
Despite a weak first outing, Jumper manages to be a good time that entertains the viewer as long as they don’t over think or overanalyze the film. Sit back, relax and don’t expect much and you may just be surprised by how much fun Jumper really is. Recommended.
Jumper arrives in a variety of flavors on release day, but for this release we’ll be sliding into the two-disc Blu-ray edition. Don’t get too excited—the second disc is merely a digital copy (no matter what people say, I find it cool that Fox includes these. Now if they’d just take the Lionsgate route and not mar the packaging with giant “DIGITAL COPY INCLUDED” headers everywhere), but the first disc is still pretty loaded with extras to check out. First things first, the packaging: Jumper arrives in a standard two-disc Blu-ray case with the matte grey Blu-ray logo (complete with half-logo removal when you take the plastic sticker off the top…stupid stickers) and actually features a reflective foil slipcover. Why? Who the hell knows. I suppose it’ll jump out at possible buyers, but if they just took the Disney route and made the insert itself reflective, that’d kill fewer trees. Menus are simple and nicely animated, with easily navigated sliding menus that pop up the extras. I do wish the navigations were a bit larger—with only two to three lines per row, it seems to me there’s a lot of needless scrolling. You have a full 1920x1080 to play with guys, why limit yourself to a tiny little portion of the screen?
Moving onto the technical features we have an impressive 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer that absolutely pops with detail and colors. Plenty of deep, rich environments get their fair showing here, with the Coliseum in Rome showing off all the details on the rocks while the visual elements of the jumpers come through untouched by compression. It’s a really beautiful transfer which boasts incredible image depth at times—truly a great HD transfer if I’ve ever seen one. The audio is a similar feast, with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track really showing its chops with the various sound effects in the film. From the jumping sounds themselves to the landings afterward and the battle with Roland, the audio mix is all over the room with superb subwoofer and surrounds channel use.
Pushing forward into the extras area we find quite a heavy load, all fronted by director Doug Liman. The first big extra is the commentary with Liman, writer/producer Kinberg and producer Lucas Foster, which is as quick to the point as the film is with the action. They talk frequently about the on-location shooting and the hardships it provided as well as the overall benefits of not having to overuse green screen or CGI. For a high-tech film, it uses remarkably few CGI tricks aside from the usual elements (for instance, you can’t exactly film a bus coming out of nowhere into the desert, so there’s that).
Next up are the regular featurettes. All but one is presented in 1080p (DOUBLE CHECK) and the first extra up is “Jumpstart: David's Story” (8:01), a recount of David’s origins through narration and comic book style panels. Neat addition, but I honestly think they fleshed his story out in the film enough as is—it’s not exactly that complicated and original to begin with. Moving on we have “Doug Liman's Jumper: Uncensored” (35:31), an in-depth documentary on the making of the film, as well as smaller in-depth pieces such as “Jumping Around the World” (10:54) which detail the many locations of the film and “Making an Actor Jump” (7:35), which shows the CGI elements off. Altogether the three documentaries are a solid representation of what it was like to work on this film and they’re a lot of fun to watch, just like the film.
"Jumping from Novel to Film: The Past, Present and Future of Jumper" (8:07) details the differences between the original novel to the film, while six deleted scenes (11:12) are available separately or all together. Finally we have “Previz: Future Concepts” (4:28) which shows off some early computer work done for the film. Nothing terribly exciting there, but a nice way to round out the extras, considering the rest is just some trailers.
Jumper boasts a fantastic video and audio presentation and a solid amount of extras. Behind-the-scenes extras, deleted scenes and a healthy commentary make the disc worth checking out and owning if you enjoy the film at all. Recommended.
Jumper arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on June 10th.