JUMPER - Blu-ray review

...passable entertainment for an overly hot Sunday afternoon.

DeanWink

"Jumper" is a science-fiction action film that borders on the superhero genre. The film is an example of a picture that had a very strong basic premise and the talent behind the project to create a something worthwhile, but ultimately failed to reach any lofty goals and the result of the labors to create "Jumper" is that the film is a lackluster action film that never really goes anywhere. This is a picture I was skeptical upon spending my hard earned dollars during its theatrical release and the film's trailers did catch my attention, but I decided to await its release to the home video market. I made the right decision this time and while I would have been greatly disappointed had I seen "Jumper" in the theaters, it was passable entertainment for an overly hot Sunday afternoon.

David Rice (Hayden Christensen) is a young man who has an interesting ability; he can teleport. David learned of his special gift one day while nearly drowning as a teenager. He disappeared and everybody believed him to be dead, including his father William (Michael Rooker). Instead, David created quite a fortune by using his teleporting ability to rob banks. He spends his time using his teleporting abilities and stolen fortunes to live life to its fullest. He travels the world and enjoys all that life has to offer. However, David's life is not complete. While he can use his money to conquest one night stands, he yearns for the girl he loved as a teenager.

Millie (Rachel Bilson) is found tending bar in the hometown where she and David grew up. When a boy who bullied David as a boy recognizes him, David gains Millies attention. David tells her that he is a successful banker and uses his knowledge of her dreams to take them on a trip to Rome. He keeps his life and his ability a secret from Millie, but his picture perfect vacation starts to fall apart when he meets the acquaintance of another ‘Jumper,' Griffin (Jamie Bell). Griffin startles David by showing him that he is not along with his abilities and makes threatening remarks towards David in regards to Millie. Griffin is not David's worry, as a group of agents known as Paladins attempt to kill them.

The film moves away from showing David as a young man with a penchant for adventure and romance and shows that he is not unique and an age-old war between Jumpers and Paladins rages on. The Paladins are led by a mysterious man named Roland Cox (Samuel L. Jackson) who claims to be with the National Security Administration (NSA). Cox and the Paladins will resort to anything in their attempt to eradicate the Jumpers, including murdering friends and family. With Millie's life in danger, David tries to persuade Griffin into partnering with him for a ‘limited run' and reminds him of the Marvel ‘Team Up' comics where superheroes combine their powers to defeat the bad guys.

"Jumper" spends about half of its short 88 minute length showing David evolve into the ‘Jumper' and how he uses his abilities to enjoy life. It sets up the early relationship between him and Millie and a small chunk of its slender length is spent on the Rome vacation with Millie. This first half of the movie does provide backstory into the Jumpers and shows how the Paladins strive to kill them all, but much of this time is simply used to show that the ‘abomination' of David is a superhero that uses his abilities for his own good and not the good of man. One particular scene shows him teleporting around his apartment and even to pick up a remote. When the news shows a number of people in a situation where they will surely die, David turns his head and thinks nothing of it. He does not become the superhero.

The second half of the film has Griffin and David preparing to combat Cox and the Paladins and David needing to save Millie from Cox as she is being held for bait. With two Jumpers bouncing around the planet and using their ability for mischief and adventure, "Jumpers" kicks the action into high gear and the film stars to move more towards what I was hoping to see after watching the trailer so long ago. "Jumpers" becomes a bit of fun and the notion of a war between Jumper and Paladin adds a sense of danger and further adventure. Sadly, the movie contains a handful of inspired action sequences during the second half and many of the better scenes were seen in the trailer.

With Michael Rooker, Diane Lane, Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson among the cast, the film has some talented actors and director Doug Liman earned his chops helming the first Jason Bourne film, "The Bourne Identity." Lane is given a very small role and Rooker is all but wasted, but does provide some of the better acting moments in the movie. Many people have ridiculed Christensen for his performances in the second "Star Wars" trilogy, but he's not a bad actor and "Jumper" shows that he is a handsome and likable man who has many good years ahead of him, but the film seems intent on using Hayden simply for his looks. Samuel L. is the man. There is no arguing that fact, but in "Jumper" he gives one of his tamest performances ever and the white hair is creepy.

The film itself isn't awful. It isn't great. I suppose I could be satisfied with calling it ‘decent.' The movie spends far too much time setting up scenes to allow the main character to ‘Jump,' but doesn't care to supply much needed exposition on the Paladins or further along the plot. The character of Griffin is thrown into the story, but his motivations and reasons for combating the Paladins are thinly developed and his short-lived partnership with David offers very little payoff aside from one fun scene involving the ‘Jumping' of a Mercedes. Other events are glossed over far too quickly to be effective. When David jumps into a hospital with his father, Christensen is given about ten seconds of screen time to act out his grief, but after just a few brief moments, the scene ends and we are left not knowing of what happened after that scene.

Where "Jumper" does succeed is the concept of the ‘Jumpers' and how they can teleport around the globe. The story conveys many of the things they are capable of doing and does give some justice to how wonderful this gift could be. It never offers up explanations on ‘Jump Scars,' although the film is inconsistent in how it uses these jump scars, but the ‘jump scars' do provide a small offering on the plausibility of the story. If people could teleport, I'm sure they'd leave a jump scar. I enjoyed the character of David, but felt jilted when he just looked away from a newscast that showed people dying. Watching the exotic locations in the film where the jumpers traveled and other things was a treat and easily the strongest element of "Jumper."

Video:

The thing I enjoyed most about "Jumper" and the saving grace that kept me from disliking the film was the various locations and breathtaking vistas shown throughout the movie. Thankfully, the film is delivered with a very nice looking 2.40:1 framed transfer that is mastered with the AVC MPEG-4 codec at 35 MBPS. Truth be told, "Jumper" is one of the best looking transfers I have seen from Fox Blu-ray, but one quip about the transfer keeps this from earning a 10. The film is a pleasure to watch for the detailed look at some of the world's marvels. The Roman Coliseum, the Sphinx and Pyramids of Egypt, the view from the Empire State Building and other interesting locations all look absolutely marvelous on "Jumper" and this is one movie that makes a solid argument for high definition video.

"Jumper" is colorful and incredibly detailed. Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson are lovely young actors and the detail of this transfer shows their attractive faces in great detail. The jump scars are an interesting visual effect and their effect is amplified at 1080p. The film's strong visual locations come across beautifully in detail and in color. The hues pop out of each frame, but never looks over-processed and generally feels natural. Black levels are solid, but I found the film lost its high definition feeling during many of the darker scenes, particularly those around Griffin's hideout. The digital transfer shows no apparent flaws and this is a clean transfer that was culled from very good source elements.

Audio:

"Jumper" is just as effective in its audio as it is in its visuals. It is not a perfect audio mix, but it is the next best thing to perfection with a solid English DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio mix. The film is chocked full of effective bass segments and nicely utilizes the rear surrounds. All six channels are used effectively, but "Jumper" is one of those pictures that offer a very good surround mix that doesn't feel forced and keeps the ears attentive during the entire picture. Movement between speakers was very nice with clean flow from channel to channel. My only complaint in the mix was partly due to Jamie Bell's accent as Griffin, but dialogue was sometimes difficult to hear when Griffin and David were conversing. I missed one or two sentences entirely and a few words here and there. It didn't take away from my viewing of the film, but the drop off was noticeable. Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mixes are included as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin and Korean.

Extras:

A number of very nice supplements are included with the "Digital Copy Special Edition" of "Jumper" that finds a Digital Copy of Jumper for Portable Media Players on an included second DVD platter. Fox has been offering a large number of films with this Digital Copy feature and it doesn't take too much effort to put the film onto a portable unit such as a Zune or iPod and travel with a small collection of Fox films with you. I applaud Fox for this feature and as along as it doesn't push the price of the releases up a couple of dollars, it is an interesting precedent that may help the Blu-ray format compete against digital downloads of films to portable devices. The Jumping Around the World (non-PiP version) features all of the video segments shown in the PiP version and they are selectable from a world map and navigation across the map allows each segment to be selected individually. I would have liked an ability to simply watch them all together.

The Blu-ray release features all of the bonus features from the DVD release as well as a Picture-in-Picture feature for Profile 1.1 capable players. This Jumping Around the World feature is an extension of the identically named feature. It includes the same footage as what is contained in that featurette, but places into an attractive PiP interface that appears during the viewing of the film. Each PiP pop-up contains a menu that details the locale shown in the scene, as well as offering up some text-based information based upon the scene and some video footage pulled from the featurette that looks into the production of the film. The material could have worked harder to fill the entire picture, which is a short 88 minutes, but only about a quarter of the film's running time as an active PiP window.

A Commentary by Director Doug Liman, Writer/Producer Simon Kinberg and Producer Lucas Foster is contained on the disc. The commentary track was recorded with all attendees in one session and they have a very good conversation on the making of the problematic film. "Jumper" may actually be more worth watching with the commentary track turned on and having the viewer get an appreciation for how difficult it was to make this picture. It is an above average audio commentary track. The Jump Start: David's Story – Animated Graphic Novel (8:07) is an excellent little animated feature that gives some further insight into the backstory of David and this is material that would have made "Jumper" a better film.

The next few features are nice featurettes on various aspects of the film. Doug Liman's Jumper: Uncensored (35:34) is a very nice documentary on the filming of this problematic picture. Doug Liman recast his entire cast and only Jamie Bell remained from the initial cast. Some locations required they could only shoot during certain hours of the day and there were other headaches surrounding shooting at other historic locations. I thoroughly enjoyed this feature. Making an Actor Jump (7:36) is a nicely done look at the CGI effects used in the film and how Liman used a combination of CGI and practical effects to create the look of a ‘jump.'

Jumping from Novel to Film: The Past, Present and Future of Jumper (8:08) gave a history on the story and the novels from Steven Gould. There is some hope for a sequel for those that loved the film. Six Deleted Scenes (11:17) are included that still have intact green screens. While nothing spectacular is contained in this set of bonus material, there is some much-needed screen time for Diane Lane. Finally Previz: Future Concepts (4:35) is a series of detailed digital animatics that show some of the action scenes from the film. The film is also Enhanced D-Box Motion Control Systems.

Closing:

"Jumper" had a wonderful premise and a talented cast, but the film never rose above being anything more than passable entertainment. Director Doug Liman had hoped to make "Jumper" the first entry of a franchise that was to be the ‘Bourne' series of superhero stories. With the film being marginally successful, it will need a good life on home video to bring about a sequel. The potential for a great action film was there, but the ingredients never seemed to gel enough to make "Jumper" as tasty as it could have been. The Blu-ray release features very strong sound and video and a nice array of supplements that show what the format is capable of. I found the PiP feature to be well done, but too think on materials. It was still the best Profile 1.1 entry I've seen and while the film isn't a solid experience, the Blu-ray release is.

Ratings

Video
9
Audio
9
Extras
7
Film Value
5