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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.

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