What a frustrating jumble of sci-fi, action, and romantic elements is Doug Liman’s Jumper! The potential is clearly present here for a cracking good adventure story with a novel premise and superb special effects, but slapdash writing and horrendously erratic acting from the principals dooms the film as a mishmash of potential sadly unfulfilled. As for Fox’s 3D conversion, it’s even less dynamic and necessary than last year’s I, Robot 3D reboot.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/MVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 1 Hr. 28 Min.
Package Includes: 3D Blu-raykeep case in a lenticular cover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 10/15/2013
High schooler David Rice (Max Thieriot as a teen, Hayden Christensen as a twenty-four year old) learns one fateful day that he has the power of “jumping”: willing himself from one place to another in the blink of an eye. He uses his power to escape an abusive home life with a brutal father (Michael Rooker) and missing mother (Diane Lane), steal money from banks, and begin to live a comfortable and worry-free existence as he masters his ability. After eight years away from home, he decides to look up his long lost crush from high school Millie Harris (AnnaSophia Robb as a teen, Rachel Bilson as an adult) and take her on a long-dreamed of trip to Rome (the slow way – by jet plane). While there, however, he realizes two important things: he’s not the only jumper in the world after he meets an even greater master of the art Griffin (Jamie Bell) and that jumpers have been despised for centuries and hunted by inquisition-like fanatics called Paladins. Their ringleader is Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), and he’s targeted David to be eliminated with a number of electrified gadgets which will restrict his powers long enough for him to be killed.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
Based on the novel by Steven Gould, the screenplay by David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls, and Simon Kinberg is rather thin and lacking much invention both in the plethora of activities young David undertakes with his first taste of freedom and later in the rather uninvolving skirmishes he has with the Paladins. David comes off as quite a dimwit for much of the movie, taking risky chances even after he becomes aware of the danger he’s in without mapping out any kind of master plan or emergency maneuvers for himself in case of capture or trouble. He doesn’t seem capable of forming words to ask for guidance from Griffin but just petulantly tags along and gets in the way of Griffin’s own well-developed plans. If David had remained at age sixteen for the bulk of the film, his naiveté and bad choices might be excused, but at age twenty-four, he should be more grounded and cautious especially since he’s putting not only his own life but the life of a girl he supposedly cares about in a great deal of danger. He doesn’t even have the maturity to sit her down and explain the truth to her so she could better cope with the events that begin happening to the both of them. These make him a very irritating, hard-to-like or identify with protagonist, and while Roland is painted as an inflexible villain, there is actually more of a rooting interest for Jamie Bell’s Griffin to escape the clutches of these fanatics.
Having helmed the breakneck-paced Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity, director Doug Liman is no stranger to this fast-paced action milieu, and his approach to direct such meager dramatic material is simply to keep things moving at a frantic pace which he does effortlessly. We’re treated to quick cuts to global marvels found in Egypt, London, Rome, Tokyo, Fiji, the Grand Canyon, and other locales while the various battles between the jumpers and their foes happen in razor-cut quick bursts of sight and sound without registering as impactfully as they might have. The sheer exhilaration of David’s ability gives the early scenes a real kinetic joy as he scampers all over the globe and relaxes in a posh apartment with every possible toy imaginable and with a room piled high with stacked money from all of his “jump sites.” The run-ins with his enemy, however, and the low-key romantic escapades with his girl friend are tepidly handled.
Hayden Christensen is a fine looking young man, but he simply doesn’t possess the deep dramatic underpinnings for his abused character that would cause an audience to literally cheer him on and wish him well. In every way, Jamie Bell has those qualities, a fierce dramatic ability to connect to the audience and a snappy moxie that gears up an audience to root for him. Samuel L. Jackson is repeating a dominating, single-minded stern character that we’ve seen in countless movies from him. With no shadings of gray at all in his performance, he’s a lethal enemy who like the Terminator keeps coming at all costs. It’s effective but utterly predictable. Rachel Bilson looks pretty and appropriately perplexed by what her boy friend isn’t telling her, but there isn’t much chemistry between her and Christensen. (Their younger counterparts Max Thierot and AnnaSophia Robb seem to share a much deeper bond.) Diane Lane is completely wasted in the role of David’s long-absent mother. Michael Rooker plays another of his troubled father figures successfully.
The film has been reformatted at 1.78:1 (the original framing was at 2.40:1) and is presented in 1080p using the MVC for 3D and AVC for 2D codec. Sharpness and color are all one could wish in the transfer with bold hues consistently maintained and realistic skin tones abounding. There is only a slight problem with flashing in some tight line structures late in the movie. Otherwise, black levels are superb, and shadow detail is first-rate. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: 2.5/5
The 3D conversion doesn’t add much impact to the visual experience at all. In a couple of shots which place David on top of the Sphinx in Egypt and a climactic view of the Grand Canyon, the sense of depth is palpable and most impressive, but much of the movie plays no more strikingly in 3D than it does in 2D in terms of visual exhilaration (a surfing sequence in Fiji should have been a knockout in 3D; it isn’t). There are no forward projections to add interest in that regard, and only occasionally do we luxuriate in shots which set-up objects in multiple planes to expand the visual impact of the surroundings. Happily, there are no crosstalk problems at all with this transfer.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix offers almost inexhaustible use of the fronts and rears for impressive split ambient effects which parallel the breathless pace of the storytelling. John Powell’s music gets a nice spread through the soundstage, and blasts of explosive happenings give the LFE channel something interesting to keep it working on overdrive in the film’s second half. Dialogue has been clearly recorded and has been placed in the center channel.
Audio Rating: 5/5
Apart from the corresponding 2D version of the film also on the same disc, there are no bonus features at all, not even a theatrical trailer or promotional trailers for other Fox 3D or 2D releases.
Special Features Rating: 0/5
Jumper whether in 3D or 2D is a barrel of missed opportunities. It’s an intriguing premise and with a better story and more effective casting, the movie could have been a sci-fi classic. As it is, it’s a movie that works best only in fits and starts.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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