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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Jumper: The Movie Reached Much Higher than Critics Admit

I finally got a chance to see Jumper last night. Contrary to critics and many posts on the web, I liked it.

First, a disclaimer. I have a business relationship with one of the movie's executive producers - Ralph Vicinanza's agency represents my novels (I have five published so far). Plus, I've worked with Vince Gerardis, also an executive producer of Jumper. And Steven Gould, an acquaintance, wrote the novel of the same name upon which the movie was based.

So, take my praise of Jumper with the above grains of salt if you like, but I nonetheless liked the movie - a lot - and here's why:

It was an unusual and therefore refreshing mix of scales in a movie. In part very personal, in part global, it was not quite like anything I've ever seen before. The story is also a rare one, for both written and cinematic science fiction: teleportation. The hero, David Rice played by Hayden Christensen, jumps around not in time but anywhere from one place on the planet to another. The golden age of science fiction, in the magnificent, classic work of Alfred Bester and his character Gully Foyle, set up a great tradition of teleportation. But it was never developed, and was largely absent everywhere until Hiro appeared as a space/time continuum traveler in NBC's Heroes in 2006.

David is much less comic-bookish than Hiro, and I found him an appealing, believable character. The drama comes from a group bent on wiping out the Jumpers, and their relationship to the personal life of David forms the plot of the movie, as well one nice surprise twist at the end.

The special effects are good, the action is brisk, so why did the movie apparently disappoint so many people?

I would say it's an unfamiliarity with the trope of teleportation, and therefore unclear expectations as to what impact it should have on the world. In contrast, changing of history via time travel is a much more fully explored and therefore better appreciated path of fiction.

But teleportation has its own unique appeal. And I predict that, whatever Jumper's current reception, it will go on to take its place as at very least a minor and perhaps a major cult classic.



Tvindy said...

I expected to like it, and I was really disappointed. IMHO the movies should have spent a lot more exploring the cool possibilities of teleporting (which it did to some degree), but they tried to clain way too much into the plot, and the fight against the villain was so prolonged and uninteresting that I barely remember it.

Paul Levinson said...

Interesting .... I had just the opposite trajectory ... I was prepared to dislike it, because of the negative reviews, but really enjoyed it.

I thought Samuel L. Jackson made a pretty good villian, and I liked the way he evolved from FBI-type man to much more.

Tvindy said...

As usual I can see I managed to sprinkle in a few typos. I can't for the life of me figure out what I meant by "clain". Perhaps "cram"???

I guess I would have preferred the perils in the movie to have more to do with teleportation experiments and accidents than with an external threat. A strong villain would be better introduced in a sequel.

Anonymous said...

You're just obviously "patronizing" the most critically & non-critically lambasted movie of the year!

Paul Levinson said...

tvindy - not to worry, I'm one of the all-time typo kings!

anon: glad you enjoyed my review!

more seriously: if you took the time to read any of my reviews here on Infinite Regress (or anywhere), you'd know I don't care at all what critics and non-critics say about movies, television shows, politicians ... all I really care about are my own opinions, in which I have lots of confidence... :)

I stand completely by my conclusion that Jumper will become a cult classic (whether minor or major, though, I'm not sure)...

White Bear Girl aka Sophie Clucker said...

Ha! lol I love when people say they like or dislike something and someone tells them they're wrong.

Arrrrgh! We missed it I think, and now have to wait for the DVD.
I can't wait to try and wrap my brain around this, I love time travel so it will be interesting as you say to see if I can 'make the leap" with teleportation"

OK....2 interesting links in movies I saw in the last two weeks

1. We saw Indiana Jones 4 last night. There was an interesting line at the end re: space... ( I don't think this is a big spoiler?) IJ asks if XXXXXis returning to space, and his counterpart says, "It's the place between here and space"

2. Made of Honor (I know, I know!!!)but Kevin McKidd was in it. Geeze no wonder NBC is tanking! Who would 86 Journeyman?!

White Bear Girl aka Sophie Clucker said...

My daughter's best friend owns a video store, and gave us their advanced copy of Jumper. I liked it, my husband (who loves action flicks) hated it. He thought the lead was a "punk"

I am always interested in what "rules" the author is going to include with their time/space travel.

This guy needed to visualize his destination it seemed. I assume that's why he kept around all the postcards so he could "picture" himself back

Interesting twist that they could take people and things with them!

Paul Levinson said...

Yeah, the complete opposite of the Terminator universe, right? ...

I agree completely about the importance of the rules. They're really essential to any enjoyable space/time travel story ...

(I thought Hiro's powers in Heroes could've been a bit more clearly explained.)

About the lead: my wife agrees with your husband ... She doesn't like Christensen in science fiction.

You and I are the true visionaries ... :)

White Bear Girl aka Sophie Clucker said...

Ha! Or just easy. I'm just happy when someone puts time and effort in creating a whole different world for me to visit