Growing up I loved watching Jumanji with its constant thrilling moments and shaggy Robin Williams. If you showed me a list of reasons why it was a bad film, I wouldn’t listen to you. It was a movie that crafted my childhood. When news came of another film starring Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black, I was skeptical to say the least. I always like to go into a movie with an open mind but something about this movie’s release just didn’t click with me.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle tells the story of four high school students who are vastly different. They all must spend their time together in detention cleaning up the basement. Spencer, the geek of the group, stumbles across a video game console with the game “Jumanji” already slotted inside it. His curiosity gets the best of him and he invites the three other students to join him. Just like the classic Jumanji board game, the group gets sucked into the world of Jumanji and must save the Jumanji world before they are stuck in the game forever. They take on avatars in the Jumanji world where they each have unique powers and three lives to spare to get them through the game.
Lets get straight to it, I really enjoyed this movie. I wasn’t expecting to laugh and be so entertained but the whole cast really clicks and there are many moments of pure fun. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart have been on screen together before and it really helps the film move along as both are the main leads in the movie. Jack Black and Karen Gillian round out the cast as the only characters that were girls in the real world, which make for the funniest moments of the movie. I found the acting in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle to be surprisingly impressive because the four avatars (Johnson, Hart, Gillian, and Black) had to act as four high students and bring those characteristics to the Jumanji world. Jack Black’s character in the real world was a posh high school girl focused on getting the most likes on Instagram and spending endless hours on her phone. She entered the Jumanji world as a fat middle aged man, which brought plenty of laughs. Seeing Jack Black act as a high school girl in a man’s body made me laugh more than any other film this year.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is structured like a video game with characters that lead to the next level and obstacles designed to test the group. As the avatars get closer and closer to saving Jumanji, the levels get harder for the group. One thing the original Jumanji movie did so well was building the anticipation for what was going to come out of the wooden game board. The new Jumanji movie played the classic drum sound to let the avatars know something was coming along their way, but I never found those leading moments to be intense or exciting. Although the film lacked moments of intensity, I did find a lot of the actual game moments to be amusing. The CGI for the level advancing scenes was a little messy but there were moments including Kevin Hart and an elephant that seemed very real.
This isn’t the original Jumanji movie by any means, in fact they are vastly different. Even though they’re different, I still found many moments in this new version that I loved. The characters were written to allow for growth and Jack Black provided some of the funniest scenes of the year. Robin Williams character, Alan Parish, was mentioned in the movie but wasn’t a main aspect for the film. I was thoroughly surprised with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and what it offered. I can’t wait to see it again soon!
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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle runs 1 hour 59 minutes and is rated PG-13 for adventure action, suggestive content and some language.