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Fox Home Entertainment / 2008 / 88 Minutes / Rated PG-13
Street Date: June 10, 2008
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Reviewed by High-Def Digest Staff
Monday, June 09, 2008
Add 'Jumper' to the pile of great Hollywood high-concept ideas in search of a well-executed movie. The neat premise is this: a secret society of genetically-gifted humans can teleport around the globe at will and battle each other using their powers for good and evil. Unfortunately, the film is so sloppily constructed that it makes you want to teleport right out of the theater and over to the next theater in the multiplex in hopes that it might be showing an old print of 'Highlander.' Despite some glossy production values, 'Jumper' would feel right at home on a drive-in double bill with any old '80s sci-fi B-movie.
Loosely based on the cult novel by Steven Gould, 'Jumper' stars Hayden Christensen as David Rice, who we learn discovered the power of teleportation after an accident in his youth. Able to "jump" to any location on Earth in a blink of an eye, David eschews using his skill to help mankind, and instead parties it up like it's 1999, robbing banks to finance an extravagant, empty lifestyle.
David's hedonism will come to an end, however, after he meets Roland (Samuel L. Jackson, slumming once again), a member of a secret sect called the Paladins, who have apparently lived for centuries attempting to eradicate all the "jumpers." Hooking up with the more experienced jumper Griffin (Jamie Bell), David decides to take on the Paladins. That won't be so easy, however, especially when Roland traps David's sweetheart Millie (Rachel Bilson), attempting to use her as bait.
The opening scenes of 'Jumper' are promising. David's backstory achieves moments of resonance, especially his charming romance with the young Millie (AnnaSophia Robb). And by adding the nicely pessimistic twist of having David be a bit of a Han Solo, 'Jumper' appears poised to avoid the silly superhero trappings and go to thematic places that few sci-fi films have traveled in recent years. Unfortunately, the script (which required no less than three writers -- David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls and Simon Kinberg) quickly gets bogged down with the Paladin nonsense, and goes from intriguing to utterly cheesy in a matter of moments.
It's a letdown that 'Jumper' squanders the interesting moral implications inherent in time travel and "jumping" for a standard-issue good versus evil plotline. The whole Paladin sect is pretty silly, and Jackson doesn't help by phoning in another over-the-top performance. Bell at least injects the storyline with some much-needed scrappiness, but by the time Millie gets sucked into the drama, we know exactly where 'Jumper' is going about three scenes ahead of any of the characters. Also not helping is Christensen, who seems to still be doing a stiff Anakin Skywalker impression, displaying little of the complexity that so impressed in more serious films such as 'Shattered Glass.' Sadly, his David is a a vapid center to a series of vapid script contrivances.
As directed by Doug Liman ('The Bourne Identity,') 'Jumper' is certainly a stylish film. The travelogue-like setpieces (David seems to travel to just about every hot spot on the map) are fun for a while, and the "jumping" effects are rather nifty. The pacing is also way over-torqued, so even if little registers, at least I was never bored. Unfortunately, glossy surfaces are far from enough to rescue 'Jumper' from the dustbin of the potentially interesting sci-fi film that just doesn't hit the mark. As is, 'Jumper' lacks the ambition to be anything more than a decent Saturday afternoon time-waster.
Fox brings 'Jumper' to Blu-ray in a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.40:1), and overall it looks great, delivering plenty of demo-worthy moments.
The image looks absolutely pristine, with any hint of a blemish CGI'd right out of existence. Colors are sometimes intentionally desaturated (particularly during the flashback sequences), but are otherwise bold and appealing. The overall palette is always rich and clean, with no noise, and fleshtones are generally accurate (again, aside from moments of overt stylization). Detail is also first-rate, with even the widest and most effects-heavy shots awash in fine texture.
I do have a few nit-picks. Sporadically low-lit sequences appear a bit washed out, with flattened contrast and reduced depth. There is also some edge enhancement that, while not severe, does result in some slight halos. Otherwise, the encode is clean with no other noticeable artifacts. These small concessions aside, 'Jumper' is sure to please.
Fox provides a DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround track (48kHz/24-bit), and like the video, it's also first-rate. This is an involving, action-heavy film boasting creative and immersive sound design.
Forget the talky bits, 'Jumper' is about its teleportation sequences, which benefit from whiz-bang surrounds. Sounds ping all over the soundfield, with excellent spatiality and seamless pans between channels. The heft to the rear soundfield is immersive throughout the action scenes, resulting in moments of very strong envelopment. Dynamic range is also terrific, with deep low bass that really pushes the subwoofer, and a very slick and polished veneer to the rest of the mix (particularly the electronic-hued score). Dialogue is also well-balanced and firmly anchored in the center channel.
The only aspects of the DTS-HD MA track that lag are the more subdued elements of the mix. Dialogue scenes are too bland, with little subtle atmosphere, while score bleed here is also weak. As no one probably cares much about people talking to each other in a movie like 'Jumper,' few will probably mind. So, even if it falls just shy of a five-star mix, 'Jumper' definitely delivers where it counts.
Fox has included a wealth of bonus materials for 'Jumper,' starting with a port of the entire supplemental package from the standard DVD. Happily, the studio has bumped up the quality of most of the video extras to full 1080 HD, so this is a case of quantity and quality. (Optional subtitles are provided in English, French, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin and Korean.)
- Audio Commentary - Director Doug Liman, writer/producer Kinberg and producer Lucas Foster sit down for a lively discussion. 'Jumper' experienced a good deal of production headaches, and if this track is not as raw as the documentary (see below), it's still far more candid than most audio commentaries these days. There is much talk of script development issues and integrating extensive effects on a limited budget, which goes a long way in explaining why 'Jumper' itself is not a particularly great movie. This track isn't good enough to warrant a must-listen, but fans of the flick shouldn't skip it.
- Documentary: "Doug Liman's Jumper: Uncensored" (HD, 35 minutes) - A step up from your standard fluff job, this digest of director Liman's struggles on 'Jumper' is often fascinating. The script problems, budget limitations and practical challenges are laid surprisingly bare, and anyone who thinks making big-budget Hollywood action flicks is fun (or glamorous) will find "Uncensored" quite eye-opening. I wish this doc was a lot longer, but regardless it's definitely the best of the supplements on the disc.
- Featurette: "Jumping Around the World" (HD, 11 minutes) - A travelogue of the film's many locations, this is a breezy visit with the film's location managers and other production personnel. Mildly interesting.
- Featurette: "Making an Actor Jump" (HD, 8 minutes) - Much cooler is this look at the film's "jumping" effects, which are a neat combination of live-action and CGI.
- Featurette: "Jumping from Novel to Film: The Past, Present and Future of Jumper" (HD, 8 minutes) - As I'd never even heard of Steven Gould's series of young adult novels before seeing 'Jumper,' this was interesting stuff. Given the mixed success of the film, however, this featurette's prediction of a long-running movie franchise may be in question...
- Deleted Scenes (SD, 11 minutes) - There are six scenes in all (presented in standard-def only), and none really add much to the flick. All are dialogue/character extensions, though barely-in-the-movie Diane Lane at least gets some more screen time here.
- Animated Graphic Novel: "Jumpstart: David's Story" (SD, 8 minutes) - Further fleshing out David's backstory, this nifty little extra is nicely animated, and I actually felt it delivered a fun style and tone sadly missing from the actual flick.
- Previz: Future Concepts (SD, 5 minutes) - Rounding out the main extras are rough renderings of three of the film's action scenes. Video is standard-def only.
- Digital Copy (SD) - Included on a second disc is a Digital Copy of 'Jumper,' allowing for download for viewing on portable devices, such as your laptop and the iPhone. (Presented in 480 standard-def video only.)
Blu-ray fans get a nice high-def exclusive with 'Jumper' -- a Bonus View (Profile 1.1) picture-in-picture track.
- Jumping Around the World - Essentially an extension of the "Jumping Around the World" featurette (see above), this integrates the content into the film itself, giving viewers a guided tour of the film's locations. (Note that if you don't have a Profile 1.1-equipped player, you can access this content via a separate manual menu. I should also mention that the PIP track does not fill up the entire runtime of the main flick, and in fact the actual amount of video content here could have been far greater. Still, it's nice when studios at least attempt to give us something exclusive.)
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Though 'Jumper' boasts an intruiging teleportation gimmick, it's not clever enough to make up for what's essentially a silly movie. This Blu-ray doesn't take nearly as much effort to appreciate, with terrific video and audio, plus a ton of extras. Fans of the film shouldn't hesitate to pick up this BD release, and if you're at all interested in 'Jumper,' this one's certainly worth a rental.
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