20th Century Fox was not a big supporter of 3D in the 1950s- though they did release one 3D movie Inferno in 1953, they believed CinemaScope instead was the future of movies. With the latest 3D resurgence however, they've been putting out a good number of movies in 3D (and some also in 'scope!) and now seem to be testing the waters with 3D conversions for Blu-Ray of movies originally released in 2D. Their first was I, Robot and Predator will be coming in December, but in between we've gotten a 3D conversion of Jumper. I'll give my impressions on the 3D, but first a bit about the movie:
Based loosely on Steven Gould's novel, Jumper follows David Rice. When we first meet him at age 15 (played by Max Theiriot), he's not too well-liked in school, with a gang of bullies calling him "Rice Bowl". His dad (Michael Rooker) is kind of a bum and doesn't get along too well with David, and his mother (Diane Lane) left them years ago. When dealing with the bullies after school, David walks onto a frozen-over lake and falls through the ice, where he first discovers that he has the power of teleportation- to instantly "jump" from one place to another. As he struggles to get to the surface, he suddenly finds himself in the middle of the local library- still all wet but safe at least. After learning how to control his power, he decides to leave home and settle in New York, where he finds that the answer to all his problems is to teleport himself into a bank vault, grab a ton of cash, then teleport back out. The movie then flashes ahead a few years and David (now played by Hayden Christensen) is living the high life in a super-deluxe New York pad. (Apparently his dad didn't care enough to file a missing person report, and nobody else back home missed him too much either. Meanwhile nobody in New York seems to wonder how he got all the cash.) While some might use a power like this to be a superhero or do some sort of good, David is just having fun jumping all over the world, picking up girls in London one minute (after first arriving there on top of Big Ben, apparently because he felt it would look cool) and surfing in Fiji the next.
David doesn't know that not only are there others in the world with his same power, but a group called the Paladins is also out to find and kill them. Led by Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), they believe that "only God should have the power to be in all places at all times." They don't give much more explanation than that, but the other "Jumpers" in the world know to stay away from them. One Jumper named Griffin (Jamie Bell) however is tracking them in addition to having his own fun around the world. Griffin watches David from a distance early on, then finally confronts him when the Paladins are about to catch up to him in Rome, where David has taken Millie (Rachel Bilson), his life-long crush, on an impromptu trip. When he realizes the trouble he's in, he tells Millie to go back home but it turns out the Paladins plan on harming her so he has to convince Griffin to help deal with them.
I first saw Jumper on DVD back when Redbox was first expanding into my area and gave away a liberal amount of free rentals. While it's far from perfect, I still found it a lot of fun- just a mindless popcorn action movie. The usual cliché of one using their super-powers to fight evil is dispensed with here as the Jumpers are mostly just having fun instead, but they still manage to attract some less-than-super villains to spoil it for them. At under 90 minutes, things move very fast- on first viewing I didn't have much time to pick it apart but certainly did on subsequent viewings. The main suspension of disbelief you'll need to enjoy this is not that David can teleport, but that he can disappear from his hometown and live on stolen money for eight years without anyone other than head Paladin Roland tracking him. Hayden Christensen plays this much differently than his much-maligned performances in the Star Wars prequels, acting cocky most of the time and showing little emotion. A sequel to Jumper has been announced, which will hopefully be shot in true 3D and allow more time for things to happen.
So, how is the 3D in this release? Well, it didn't blow me away but it was still rather pleasing- I still haven't seen an extensive demonstration on how 2D films are converted to 3D, but a good sense of depth is added here. It isn't done as thoroughly as other conversions I've seen however, resulting in the actors looking like cardboard cutouts against a background that looks like a flat backdrop in many scenes. Still, there are a few cool 3D effects such as when a building falls apart and pieces fly at the camera, and snow falling during an outdoor scene looks pretty nice as well. Still, this won't be on anyone's demo material list, and even those who haven't seen many 3D movies may notice things not looking entirely natural.
While many 3D releases have included a 2D version on a separate disc, Jumper 3D is only one disc and simply allows the 3D conversion to be played in 2D. This still won't give you a presentation faithful to the original release as it has been re-composed to a ‘full-screen' 1.78 rather than the 2.35 ratio of its theatrical and prior disc releases. IMDB shows that it was filmed in Super 35, meaning that its original negative had a ratio closer to 4x3 and thus any modified ratios aren't true pan and scan jobs. I compared the 2D version on this disc with that of the 2.35 transfer on the original DVD, and found more picture information on the top and bottom of the screen rather than the sides cropped off. I will say after watching many movies recently that were shot digitally, it was a bit of a relief to see one shot on traditional film again. Film grain is for the most part left intact here, although it looks a bit funny in the 3D conversion as the film grain keeps itself on the displaced objects rather than remaining constant throughout the frame.
Jumper has a rather playful sound mix, presented on this disc in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. One of the main elements you'll notice on a good sound system is how the subwoofer is triggered every time David or Griffin makes a "jump"- I imagine this saved a bit on visual effects as well as they often do this offscreen with only the sound effects telling us where they are. Surrounds are used rather conservatively but effectively, and John Powell's mostly orchestral music score sounds great here too.
Spanish and French dubs in Dolby Digital 5.1 are included, along with English SDH and Spanish subtitles. (The French subtitle track is meant to accompany the French dubbed track, translating details onscreen such as signs).
Although the original Blu-Ray release included a commentary and several extras including a picture-in-picture mode, this 3D release includes absolutely nothing, not even any trailers.
An observant YouTube user who bought this disc has noted that the scene where Griffin confronts David for the first time is different from that of the theatrical version, and shows the scene shot off-screen to prove it. However the copy I received keeps this scene the same as the original cut, and I compared it with the older release to verify- I don't know the story behind this, but there may be two different versions of this disc out there.
Jumper is good mindless leave-your-brain-at-the-door viewing, but beware if you're in a mood to pick apart a movie while watching as you'll be doing a lot of that here. While the 3D conversion is nice to look at, it's not nearly as thorough as those that had theatrical re-releases before heading to disc, and of course conversions are never a substitute for movies shot in TRUE 3D anyways.
For first-time viewers of Jumper, I would recommend the original Blu-Ray release rather than this one as it presents the movie at the proper aspect ratio. If you already have that release, appreciate 3D and like the movie enough to buy a second time, you'll want to consider this a supplement to that more than anything else. Hopefully Fox will release 1953's Inferno on 3D Blu-Ray before converting any more of their 2D films.