Sometimes the very worst of movies can make the most interesting of DVD packages, particularly when the bonus features provide an informative glimpse into what went so very wrong. Such is the case with Doug Liman's "Jumper."
To be fair, Liman's loose adaptation of Steven Gould's young adult novel, featuring an expressionless Hayden Christensen as a teleporting rogue and Rachel Bilson as the woman who, for no reason explained in the script, loves him, made over $220 million worldwide, which either means that it has fans or that audiences were just really desperate for action this spring.
To my mind, "Jumper" was like filmmaking through a blender, a loose assemblage of scenes that never connected, location work that never amounted to anything, characters with hazy motivations and perhaps the worst acting-for-money gig Samuel L. Jackson has ever taken. But somebody probably liked the snazzy effects and brief postcard glimpses of places like Tokyo, Paris, Rome and Egypt. Plus, there are still teen girls out there convinced that George Lucas didn't beat the "dreamy" right out of Christensen.
The behind-the-scenes tumult on "Jumper" was epic, with Liman going wildly over budget and past the original shooting schedule, going so far as to pause production and entirely recast early on. If that chaos had gone unacknowledged, the "Jumper" DVD would be as much of a waste as the film itself, but the featurettes actually show a candor that's remarkable for a movie so recent and so lucrative.
DVD Bonus Features:
The Good: A commentary track with Liman, writer-producer Simon Kinsberg and Lucas Foster is just a bit sad, because all three men have obviously given great consideration to the theme and mechanics of the movie, but almost none of what they discuss translated to the screen. The one thing they didn't bother to do was bring their ideas into the script, which everybody admits was done on the fly and subject to constant rewrites. The disc's standout feature is the 35-minute "Doug Liman's 'Jumper' Uncensored," in which the director's process -- somewhere between eccentric and utterly insane -- is laid bare in the sort of warts-and-all expose you almost never seen from a filmmaker with Liman's pedigree. Jamie Bell, whose Griffin is the highlight of the film, is a valuable co-star in "Uncensored," showing both dedication and bafflement in the face of Liman's peculiar methodology, which includes frequent disrobing and moments of frantic camera operation around Roman landmarks. While "Uncensored" is totally satisfying on its own as a behind-the-scenes documentary, the "Jumper" package is supplemented with more traditional and totally acceptable featurettes covering the jumping visual effects, the production's globetrotting shoot and the transition from book-to-film. Not all of the six deleted scenes are illuminating, but an alternate introduction for Jackson's Roland instantly makes the character more interesting, while an extended montage smoothes the jarring gap between the main character fleeing his adversary and returning to his childhood home.
The Bad: The worst part of the DVD package is the movie itself. It's also a bit disappointing that while Liman and company make mention of the original part of the shoot, no footage from the Tom Sturridge and Teresa Palmer version of the movie appears. An eight-minute animated graphic novel adds little.
The Price: $29.99 (also available in two-disc edition with digital copy for $34.90)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun