Friday, February 15, 2008

Jumper Goes Splat

Despite Hayden Christensen, I was going to take a risk and see Jumper tonight, because I like big-budget sci-fi and I like Sammy Jackson. But then I read Ebert’s review. And then checked Rotten Tomatoes. Ugh. It’s not easy to get 15% on Rotten Tomatoes – a movie has to suck and blow at the same time to get less than thirty or forty percent. For pete's sake, any big studio film can count on at least ten percent from what Ebert calls “quote whores” – reviewers who praise films so studios can use their quotes for promotion. Here’s an example from a positive “review” of Jumper: …some of the most jaw-dropping stunts shot in some of the most amazing locations on earth. See? Whore.

I am nonplussed by Hayden Christensen’s success. With all the young actors struggling for roles in cutthroat Hollywood, how is it that he got in? I’m not trying to be funny here – I just don’t get it. If he were cast in a David Mamet film, and instructed to deliver his lines with no expression or emotion, he would still really suck, which means can’t even not act well. He made me cringe in Star Wars. Who keeps giving him parts, and why?

OK - enough griping! On a more positive note, I’d like to mention the great "jumper" story of sci-fi: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester (1956). Like the Jumper characters, Charles Fort Jaunte discovers his talent accidentally. Trapped in a deadly laboratory fire, he suddenly finds himself 20 feet away from the blaze, next to the fire extinguisher. He and others develop this newfound skill, and pretty soon just about everyone learns to “jaunte” to any place on earth, provided they’ve been there once and can picture the place. The main protagonist of Stars is Gully Foyle, who is just a fantastic character. This is one of my favorite sci-fi books ever. It’s easily on my top-ten list, and is generally considered to be one of the best sci-fi novels. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I’m going to read it again.

They’ve never made a movie of The Stars My Destination, though I’ve read that there were aborted attempts. In 2006, Universal bought screen rights to the book, but I don’t know if they've moved on it. Gully Foyle is a complex and morally ambiguous character, and if Hollywood makes this book into a movie, I suspect that they’ll dumb it down.

6 comments:

Rob S. said...

I've never read The Stars My Destination, but I've always meant to after being blown away by Bester's The Demolished Man -- one of my favorite SF books.

Don said...

Yeah, that's a great one, too! The first Hugo winner. You'll love Stars, I'm sure.

tofu-powered art-chick said...

I would like to see your top ten list! Really, I might read Stars based on your review. I consider you to be the anti-whore...

Rob S. said...

Aunty Whore is someone totally different.

By the way, did you know there was a Howard Chaykin comic adaptation of Stars that DC put out in the 80s? (Come to think of it, I think you might have shown me a copy of it in your house, but I might be misremembering...)

Don said...

Yes, I have one of the limited edition hardcover ones (1979, actually), signed by Bester and Chaykin.

Don said...

tpac: I'll think about what would actually be on my top ten...