DVD Review #21: Jumper (Special Edition) (2008)

February 21, 2010 at 4:04 AM | Posted in Action, Based on a Book, DVD Reviews, Franchise Film, Sci-Fi | 1 Comment

“Nobody cuts off this Jedi’s motherf*cking hand!”

This is the kind of movie I wish existed, but usually doesn’t. A movie that doesn’t just go back and forth between three sets, or stay in one city we’ve seen a million times. It’s a film that’s literally all over the map. It’s an experience, not just a feature-length lie.


Shot by the director of the first film in the recent Jason Bourne series, Jumper is one of four major “realistic” superhero movies that aren’t based on comics. Like Hancock, Unbreakable, and Push, it presents an original superhero story the way it might really happen. In Unbreakable, we have a regular guy in a mythic origin. In Hancock, we’re presented with a hero who wants to be a regular guy, unaware of his mythic origins. And Push presents the idea of many people around the world with different powers and how they live and interact.

The tale of Jumper offers the fantastic power of teleportation as wielded by wayward kids who logically use it for their own gain. Everything is presented untraditionally. The protagonist has no sense of duty. He doesn’t go after the villain unless he absolutely has to.

Roger Ebert doesn’t like the film because it doesn’t show a public reaction to open display of these powers, and if no one in the film is interested in the powers, why should the audience be? This isn’t a relevant angle for the picture. People are shown reacting to David appearing suddenly in the library. Reaction is shown to him robbing the bank. But to have any authorities trying to pursue David would be pointless. He is already pursued by the leader of a society who HAS noticed these activities over the centuries. Traditional law enforcement would have no way of catching David, and no jurisdiction across borders.

Part of the theme of making this film was to “skip the boring parts.” Showing constant public reactions would have been boring, especially to the characters, who consider themselves above normal society. Original plotlines from the script involving terrorism and no doubt federal agents were considered too typical of movies like this. So we get a film which is simply not concerned with the Spider-Man “public opinion montage.”

It’s a brief film, but made in a way that takes advantage of time. It’s too fast paced and interesting to feel short, and avoids feeling slow by skipping the dull parts. The effects and action are great, and filmed in a matter-of-fact style to enhance the spectacle without focusing on it and making it a showpiece.

Rachel Bilson is adorable in this. Sam Jackson is Sam Jackson. Hayden Christensen is not worth endless moaning and complaining. Really, who are we comparing him with? He’s not Josh Brolin, but he doesn’t need to be. This is a wish fulfillment movie with more bells and whistles than much bigger productions which promise a lot more.

Despite the attempts at realism, I didn’t like the unbeatable “tethers” or the fact that the main characters could get constantly jolted with electricity without dying or suffering any permanent ill effects. The tethers also put me off when I saw the first trailer for the movie, as such an invention is bizarre and unlikely. Once you get past that and Sam’s hair, Jumper is a unique international effects movie.

If you hate fun and action like Roger Ebert does and only want movies to be dissertations on interesting subjects, then you won’t like this. But you will be missing out. This was planned as a trilogy, quite possibly for the first time ever – genuinely, not as an afterthought – and the sequel is already under way. No doubt there will be plenty of reaction shots and government interference in the next two installments, hopefully with Doug Liman’s singular take on reaction shots and government interference.

The filmmakers tell you exactly their thought process behind adapting and telling the story, their haphazard style of production, and the agendas they set in place to make this movie as good as it could be. At times I found the movie volume too loud and was distracted by the dialogue, but it’s overall a jovial and informative track.

“Jumpstart” is an eight minute “animated graphic novel” and it’s really quite awful. The “animation” consists of colored line art sort of slowly moving around, really bad voiceovers, video game cutscene music, and no lipsynch. It also stutters annoyingly instead of moving smoothly. It’s exceptionally slow and boring. The concept is respectable, but the art is mediocre and it just needs to be at least twice as fast. The story involves a (younger?) David searching for his mother, and discovering he is unable to jump while wearing handcuffs.

“Doug Liman’s Jumper: Uncensored” is a 35 minute documentary about how the director is weird looking and possibly crazy. Not only does he completely throw out almost everything from the book he’s adapting, he throws out whatever he doesn’t like from the script, and goes through a dozen versions of the screenplay. He throws out the entire cast and gets a new one. He’ll strip down to his shorts to pull an actor underwater so they move exactly how he wants. He has food crumbs in his pocket from the Sundance Film Festival. He takes cameras and runs around with them. He falls into pits. He wears berets. But actor Jamie Bell is also crazy. He dances. He talks in an American accent even though he’s not playing an American. He wears sunglasses. This is a purely behind-the-scenes, no narration feature with few interviews. It reminds me of the extra on Lost in Translation. In this case, it goes on just long enough to whet your appetite with all the amazing guerrilla filmmaking secrets.

“Jumping Around the World” shows an 11 minute travel diary about the sets and international locations of the film.

For seven minutes, you can learn all about “Making an Actor Jump.” And you still won’t know how they did it.

“Jumping From Novel to Film” is eight minutes, and talks about the story and the adaptation.

There’s some good pre-viz of pretty crazy action scenes that weren’t in the movie, probably from the original screenplay.

The unfinished deleted scenes include David inadvertantly jumping and his subsequent therapy, Roland’s home life, development of that box thing, you know, Roland entering David’s apartment, David hiding from Roland in a cave, David jumping to get Millie’s luggage, and Griffin stuck in a transformer.

There’s not a ton of stuff here, but it’s more than a lot of lower key movies have. Most of the features are worth a look or two, with the exception of the animation.

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  1. […] it had been as honest as the comic about the idea of getting to do whatever you want. For my money, Jumper is more successful at presenting lawless joy through superpowered spectacle, and Shoot ‘Em Up […]

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