February 13th, 2008


Hey, for the Sequel, Let's Pretend It's Based on the Song by Third Eye Blind!

One day when I was a teenager spending a summer in San Francisco, I was in the San Francisco Public Library. At that age, I was a voracious reader but didn't really have the right friends. I had no idea what I was "supposed" to read. Instead, I perused the stacks and picked out books that looked interesting and read them if the blurb made them sound worth reading.

This was how I discovered Jumper, one of my very favorite books. Jumper was about a boy who could teleport, and for an escapist like me, that was a perfect story. I re-read the book years later and still loved it. I was extremely excited to even see it in a used bookstore.

You can imagine, then, how freaking ecstatic I was to hear they were making a movie of one of my favorite books! Not only that, it was going to be directed by Doug Liman, who made Go, one of my favorite movies!

Then, on August 6, 2007, I saw the official website.

What? What? WHAT?

I went to IMDb to see the plot synopsis:
A genetic anomaly allows a young man to teleport himself anywhere. He discovers this gift has existed for centuries and finds himself in a war that has been raging for thousands of years between "Jumpers" and those who have sworn to kill them.
The part in bold? IS COMPLETELY MADE UP AND HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO AT ALL WITH THE BOOK OR ITS SEQUEL. In the book, Davy is the only one, and that's part of the fucking point. There are no fucking Paladins or whatever; that's not the kind of book it is. The book is about Davy growing up. Dealing with his abusive father. Looking for his mother. Bagging a hot chick. He has some teleportation adventures, and it's great. I highly recommend you read it. Reflex is also good.

I watched the first trailer with trepidation. It...looked cool enough, with the teleporting. They appeared to have kept the same names for the characters. Aaaaand there was this random other Jumper who could fucking teleport cars or some shit, which would not be possible the way teleportation works in the book.

So when I was given the chance to see a free preview of the movie, I at least knew not to expect an actual adaptation of my book. I knew that it would be very different, given that the basic premise of the movie was original.

Hilariously, the movie is even more different than I expected! The only character that remained relatively close to the book was Davy's father, who was alcoholic and ill-tempered but could have stood to be more obviously abusive. Because, for fuck's sake, that's kind of the most important thing about him in the book. They changed Millie from a girl Davy randomly meets to a girl he always had a crush on in school. And Davy, the goddamn protagonist, comes off as a smug jerk from his opening lines, plus they aged him up from seventeen to early twenties. And don't even get me started on Davy's mom.

As for the new characters? Samuel L. Jackson looks ridiculous, and his character is totally one-dimensional. Thankfully, Jamie Bell kind of steals the movie as Griffin, the roguish Jumper with a penchant for teleporting vehicles. He's totally the best part of the movie. Honorable mention goes to Rachel Bilson's breasts. (Okay, one other note: about the only thing they got pretty right was the relationship between Davy and his father, which even arbitrarium, who knew next to nothing about the movie and even less about the book, thought was "heartbreaking.")

And oh my God! You guys, TEDDY DUNN LEARNED HOW TO ACT! It's pretty impressive. He has a small role, but I actually had to convince myself it was really him and they hadn't just recast with someone who looked like him. I think it's the facial hair. He always seems to put in a better performance when he has facial hair.

The teleportation effects were neat, I'll admit, and it's certainly a lot of fun to see characters jumping from place to place, even though it's often sort of confusing. Sometimes Doug Liman just swings the camera around wildly and hopes you understand what's going on.

Really, though, the movie is kind of maddeningly generic and Hollywood, and it's obviously setting up for their trilogy (EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE ONLY TWO BOOKS), since nothing really gets resolved. (There were some boos at the end.) It's more like an introduction, and a mildly diverting one at that. It wasn't completely awful, but it wasn't amazing or anything. Just a decent flick with some fun teleportation stuff. But I could actually enjoy the movie on its own merits because it had nothing to do with the book. It had as much in common with the book as The Lost World does. I am not exaggerating when I say that not more than 10% of the book made it into the movie. Maybe less. I came up with six things they took from the book. Six. And that's being generous and not subtracting points for using something but changing it. arbitrarium said it was like an AU, which would be a better interpretation if Steven Gould weren't going along with this bullshit and writing a book about Griffin (and, presumably, the fucking Paladins).

After the movie, I could fully rant to arbitrarium about how different it was from the book. A woman heard me, and the following hilarious conversation occurred:

"You've read the book? Does it explain more about the Paladins?"
"There are no Paladins? Then who's hunting them?"

I had a whole group of people around me now, totally baffled that the two biggest plots points in the movie did not appear in the book at all. I described what the book was like, and a guy said, "That sounds like it would make a good movie!"

Yes, it would, dude. Yes, it would. And now no one can make it. Thanks a lot, Hollywood.