Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Review
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is an action adventure comedy film, directed by Jake Kasdan and it is a standalone sequel to 1995’s Jumanji. If you care to read the review on that film, click here. This film stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, and Bobby Cannavale.
The Story/The Direction:
This film is set twenty-one years after the first film and the sacred game has been transformed into a video game. The film follows Spencer, Martha, Bethany, and “Fridge” who play the game and are transported into the game and become the characters they chose. Spencer becomes Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Johnson), Martha becomes Ruby Roundhouse (Gillan), Bethany is Professor Sheldon Oberon (Black), and Anthony is Franklin Finbar (Hart). They are joined by Jefferson McDonough (Jonas). To escape the game and return to the real world, they must beat the game.
When the trailer for this film was released, the majority of the population were up in arms as this film looked immensely silly and honestly a dishonor to the 1995 film. Surprisingly, this film is not that. It pays honor to Robin Williams and that film is perhaps the best way. Kasdan is able to separate the film from the original and gives a very entertaining video game movie. The details are great such as the map looking like the game itself. Unlike the many video game movie adaptations, it doesn’t shy away from that and does not try to be anything more. Each level is revealed on a map only after they complete the prior level. Each player has their strengths and weakness and three lives which are shown to them through HUD displays and tattoos. This film also has a good amount of fun action scenes and funny humor to keep most invested in the story and characters.
Essentially each character is the opposite of their avatar which represents a lot of gamer’s choices when they play video games. Spencer is weak and timid but is brave and strong and heroic in the game who has no weaknesses and one of his strengths smoldering. Bethany is obsessed with her phone and figure and becomes this phoneless, middle-aged man. The non-athlete and brainy Martha becomes the mega fighter and “killer of men” who is similar to Lara Croft. Fridge, the unintelligent jock who becomes the smallest and most science-based member of their crew. Most of them are allowed to go through some decent character development. Johnson is able to soar as the lead and the rest of the cast is great around him especially Black playing a teenage girl and Gillan is once again extremely fantastic in action scenes except without blue makeup like in Guardians of the Galaxy.
While the majority of the characters go through a good amount of development, Fridge does not at all. In fact, he only seemed to exist to be a comic foil to Johnson and did not really add too much to the story. In addition, the villain (Cannavale) is very simplistic as all he wants is to take over Jumanji. There’s no background to him at all and does not have much connection to the previous version of his character. The prior film had essentially a connection to the main character as a message of “facing your fear.” This thus makes you feel that even though the characters have a limited amount of lives, they’ll never use them all by the time the film ends. There also seems to be a little bit of confusion when dealing with the continuity between the two films.
These flaws, however, can be ignored as they can be explained somewhat through video game logic, which this film honestly soars at. The film is simply a video game film that is not based off any video game. It pays homage to the original film but sets itself apart from it. Though not flawless, it seems to be made with care and it is not just created for nostalgic purposes. It is hilarious, ridiculous at times, and the chemistry between the cast is great especially between Johnson and Hart. This film uses video game logic and that is why this film is very enjoyable to see in theatres or on Blu-ray.
Rating: 3.5/5.0 bowties
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