Worlds & Time

Saturday, February 16, 2008


First, let me just say that Jumper the movie is not Jumper the book. They are separate and distinct mythologies and stories, and except for the concept of teleportation and a couple of the names they have almost nothing in common.

I first read Jumper years ago, when I checked it out from the La Farge branch of the Santa Fe public library system and liked it so much that I went out and bought it.

The premise of the book is sort of a subversion of The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. In Bester's novel nearly everyone can teleport and it has replaced cars as the most common form of personal transport. In the Jumper novel, only Davey can, and no one has ever heard of someone else that shares his ability.

The movie is sort of in the middle. Davey is not unique, but the power of teleportation isn't nearly universal either. He is one of a select few, one in a billion, that is not limited by the need to walk or drive or take a plane when he wants to travel. He can teleport from place to place whenever he wants to, limited only by the necessity of having previously visited a location before he can teleport there.

In the movie there's a new twist that wasn't in the book; men called Paladins that are religious fanatics that are determined to wipe out jumpers, the people that can teleport. Davey avoids their attention for a long time, but they eventually track him down and begin to hunt him, setting up the conflict at the heart of the movie.

I was ambivalent about this addition when I walked into the movie theater, but the screenplay really manages to integrate these murderous men in black well. They're a little vague about what exactly their religious beliefs are based in (Christianity? Islam? Judaism? Buddhism?) and how they came about, but they really manage to move the plot of the movie along. Interestingly, the Paladins replace terrorists as the antagonists which shocked me. After all, terrorism is a really hot topic at the moment, and in the novel Davey's concentration is on plane hijackings. Ah, well, perhaps in the sequel.

The cast is actually very, very high profile, and they all do their jobs excellently. Samuel L. Jackson, Hayden Christiansen, and Diane Lane all play central characters. The British jumper Griffin is played by Jamie Bell (of Billy Elliot fame), and he steals every scene that he appears in. Or perhaps that's because I have a crush on him. Either way, he's great.

Only two thing bothered me about the characters. Samuel L. Jackson's Roland had limited characterization, leaving him a bit two dimensional. The second was Millie, played by Rachel Bilson, who doesn't ask how he survived the apparently fatal accident that allowed him to leave home when she sees him again and then later agrees to leave the country with a man that she hasn't seen in years. Those two little bits of character stupidity strain credibility, and both could have been covered with a minute worth of scenes in which we see Davey charming her as they sit alone in her closing sports bar.

Also, just a note about Hayden Christiansen: He's still a little whiny, but if he hadn't been in Star Wars, you probably wouldn't even notice that. He manages to show depth of character, express realistic feeling, and his dialog isn't the stunted mess that Anakin Skywalker had. He wasn't brilliant, but for a science fiction action flick he was more than competent. If you read it differently in another review, I suspect that the critic is being biased by his previous role.

The effects and the setting are brilliant, just like you would expect from a big budget science fiction movie. If they'd taken the novel's cue, the effects would be much less impressive, as Davey doesn't even make a popping sound when he teleports. The movie's bursts of air and water are much more effective for a screen version.

Altogether, this movie really works and is very well produced. It doesn't try to hard to force the plot together: the action flows naturally from the situations. As I said, it isn't the book, but it doesn't try to be. It has it's own center of being, and it understands that and follows it. I really enjoyed it, and I will certainly buy it when it comes out on DVD.

Kudos to the movie makers, and to Steve as well.

If you haven't seen it, go!

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  • Great. Now I'm going to have to find this movie when it comes out on DVD.


    I haven't been missing the discussion on the list, but this write-up somehow tipped me over. Thanks for the review.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:48 PM  

  • Actually, thank you. I'm really happy that I could convince you.

    By Blogger Spherical Time, at 9:11 PM  

  • So i saw jumper this weekend... Not bad, but the second jumper guy was soo when u pointed out it was the guy from billy elliot it all made sense.... I hated that boring movie! ( that I got dragged to byu and shira)

    Anyways, glad your posting again, and I hope the legal stuff is ending alright... Ttys

    By Blogger Elliot, at 5:48 PM  

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