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What to see after the good movies leave theaters.
Samuel L. Jackson Stars in "Jumper."
OPENING WEEKEND: $18,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $70,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

October 1st, 2007: A young boy, Davey, learns that he has a new power to teleport anywhere he wants by simply using his mind. He decides to use this new power to escape his unbearable family life, fight crime and hunt down the man who killed his mother. However, there are forces out there that wish to destroy him and all other Jumpers. Now he must pursue his goals with the NSA hot on his tail, who are interested in harnessing his powers for their own gains.

What to Expect: Doug Liman is back with the sci-fi adaptation of Stephen Gould's novel Jumper. Liman has so far been extremely successful with hit after hit including the Bourne Identity and the cult classics Swingers and Go, but his streak might end with this one. Jumper definitely has the potential to be great, but it also has all of the characteristics of a failure. New Regency and 20th Century Fox pumped over one hundred million dollars into this project hoping to create a new money-making franchise for years to come, putting much pressure on Liman to produce. Yet, the production has been plagued with problems from the start and has received much bad press, but if anything can save this film it is Liman's meticulous and patient approach to movie making.

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First of all, one of the hardest types of books to adapt into a movie is science fiction. For every successful Total Recall and Blade Runner there are countless Battlefield Earths and Chronicles of Riddicks that fail miserably. There is a variety of reasons why these books are so hard to work with. For starters, many of the stories and concepts are very long and hard to translate into a reasonably timed movie. Consequently, science fiction films often disappoint loyal fans because they leave things out, meanwhile confusing everyone else. However, I believe Liman is a good enough director to avoid this pitfall. When he first got the screenplay, he said he "loved the concept, but the script needed a lot of work." Many directors would have succumbed to the pressure of the studios and gone ahead with filming anyway, but not Liman. When he was working on The Bourne Identity, one film exec once told him, "you need to work faster, you are not running a film school, you are making a movie," but Liman stayed the course and the results speak for themselves. He did the same here, spending ten months working and reworking the script, enlisting the help of such accomplished writers such as David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Blade), Jim Uhls (Fight Club) and Simon Kinberg (X-Men: The Last Stand). When these guys were finally done with the rewrites, the story looked nothing like the original source. The book tells the story of Davey, a young boy who discovers that he can teleport as he learns to use his powers; he begins to stop hijackers all over the world and looks for his long lost mother. In the movie version, the boy's mother is dead, and he uses his powers to try to find his mother's killers while the NSA and a rival with the same powers are after him. The evil government agency is a personal favorite of both Gould and Liman (think all three Bourne movies) so Liman could not resist including that aspect. However, there will not be an outright evil villain, as Liman puts it, "Everyone has their different viewpoints, so who says that the person you're following has to be the hero. I think it's much more interesting to have the grey areas." Inside sources tell us that the full script has enough of the novel to please the hardcore fans, but enough changes to make a good movie that will please everyone else.

The second pitfall of the science fiction movie is the main protagonist. In the science fiction genre, the main character is arguably the most important character. This individual is always very well developed in the novel and has very distinct characteristics. Often times when going from book to movie, these aspects are either lost or misinterpreted by the director as well as the actor playing that role. I fear that Liman has made the same mistake by casting Hayden Christensen as Davey. Christensen is a horrible actor; he plays the same exact character in ever single movie he is cast in. He was terrible as Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequel, where his annoying, whiny, forgettable nature was completely unbelievable as the young Darth Vader. I know some people will try to defend him by saying that the reason Anakin became Darth Vader was because he was extremely weak natured and insecure, but Christensen did not make me feel bad for Anakin, he simply made me hate him and, by extension, all three Star Wars movies. I doubt that Christensen will do any better in Jumper since he seems to really not understand the characters he is playing. There is a very good possibility that he will single handedly destroy another promising franchise. He needs to stick to romantic comedies, where his good looks can make up for his complete lack of talent.

This franchise's only hope is Christensen's co-star Samuel L. Jackson, who will star as the NSA agent chasing Davey. Jackson is like the polar opposite of Christensen; he commits full heartedly to every role he takes and has already expressed his love for science fiction. He is such a fun actor with so much charisma that he sucks in the audience into what ever part he is playing. When being asked about his part he said, "Kids teleport? Great! I get to chase them, beat them up and kill them, even better!". That is just the way he is. Unfortunately, Jackson was not able to save Star Wars from Christensen's incompetence, and I doubt he will have enough screen time in this one to bail the movie out.

The last and most discouraging part of this development is the bad press this movie has been receiving. First, there was the controversy involving with the Coliseum in Rome. Due to its historical significance, it is very difficult to receive permission to film at the site. In fact, not a single movie, not Gladiator, not even documentaries have ever been granted permission to film in the subterranean part of the amphitheatre. Yet, after only a few days of negotiation with the Rome Film Commission, the movie was granted unprecedented access to the Coliseum, allowing them to film anywhere they want as long as they did not mount anything on the walls or ceilings, leading to speculation of corruption and bribery. One employee of the Rome Film Commission, who was not authorized to discuss the matter, said that hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees had changed hands. I do not really mind that so much, since as a film maker you need to do whatever you can to improve your movie. What really bothers me is not how they got the access but for what purpose. Instead of filming something substantial and memorable in the ancient Roman site, where thousands of gladiators died over the centuries, Liman decided to use it as a spot to film a LOVE SCENE. How inappropriate. I am sure Ridley Scott would have given his left arm to be able to film Russell Crowe fighting in the arena, but he never got the chance. Now Liman is going to use that arena to film a love scene, and not even an important love scene but a scene that is not really intricate to the plot and was originally written for the Pantheon not the Coliseum. I guess the Pantheon cost more in bribe money. Shame on you easily corruptible Roman officials and shame on you Liman for blowing an opportunity of a life time. When word of this leaked out, many in the film community were extremely angry with the director for good reason, but the bad publicity did not stop there. When the shooting was being wrapped up in Toronto, set designer David Ritchie was killed by some frozen debris, putting the entire production in the spotlight again for all the wrong reasons.

In Conclusion: After all the delays, script problems and negative publicity, the movie was finally finished. All early indicators point to a complete disaster. Now it has been announced for a February 2008 release, which is extremely strange for a hundred million dollar movie. Usually, the late winter months are used as a clearing time for all the crappy movies that the studios want to unload. It is cold, there is snow on the ground in many states and the kids are in school making it the worst time to release such a movie. I would think that if the final product was any good then Fox would save it for a summer release. I fear that we may have another Battlefield Earth on our hands. Many sci-fi fans will probably still go see this movie in theaters, unfortunately, it won't be enough to make this film a success.

Similar Titles: The Island, Matrix, Minority Report
February 14th, 2008 (wide)
June 10th, 2008 (DVD)

20th Century Fox

Doug Liman

Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Jamie Bell, Max Thieriot, Shawn Roberts, AnnaSophia Robb, Diane Lane

Total: 96 vote(s).

Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction

Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense actio






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