Release Date: December 20, 2017
Running Time: 1 hour 59 minutes
“Four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game’s jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji – you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves – or they’ll be stuck in the game forever.”
Now, I know that I haven’t been reviewing much of anything lately, however I feel like I’m still figuring out what kind of reviews I want to write, and while I usually do non – spoiler reviews, this movie has been out in theatres now for about 2 months, and I’ve just watched it for the first time earlier this week. As such, this review will have some amount of spoilers in it, and the format of my review might be a bit different than some of my reviews in the past.
I will not be linking the cast and crew to their IMDB pages as I’ve done for every other review so far, as I will now just include the names of the cast and some of the crew, rather than linking them all.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Trailer – Source: Sony Pictures
Cast Includes: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Rhys Darby, Bobby Cannavale, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Morgan Turner & Colin Hanks.
Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Screenplay Written by: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg & Jeff Pinkner
The idea that Jumanji would ever live on after the passing of Robin Williams is something that I never dreamed of, however when they started to announce the cast of this movie, I have to admit that I was getting a bit excited over the idea, and the trailer while didn’t seem anything like the original Jumanji, felt like something I would be interested in seeing. Usually, I would have seen this movie right away in theatres, but as I’ve mentioned in my post last month, I have been extremely busy with things going on in my personal life that for the first time, movies were not on my mind.
The idea of being stuck in a video game, or being transported into a video game is not something that is new to movies or other mediums of entertainment, however I feel that this one actually worked. The idea that the characters were self aware of video games and the idiosyncrasies that are prevalent was something that I quite enjoyed.
The young group of heroes did a good job at showing who they were, and their various personalities before they get sucked into the game. All of the characters are very stereotypical in their personality and their traits, and while they break out of those stereotypes by the end of the movie, it’s one of the clichés that this movie falls prey to. Spencer is the cowardly Jewish nerd, Fridge is the African-American “lazy’ jock, Martha is the female bookworm trying to get into college, has self-esteem issues and hates P.E., Bethany is the popular, phone/social media-obsessed, selfish & shallow teenage girl.
All of these stereotypes get flipped on their heads when they enter the game world of Jumanji, where Spencer is now fearless superjock in the body of Dwayne Johnson. Fridge’s real life strengths are now his weaknesses in the body of Kevin Hart. Martha’s insecurities and hatred of physical activity gets flipped when she becomes the extremely active and gorgeous Karen Gillan. Bethany’s shallowness is flipped when she becomes Jack Black, and she loses access to her mobile device, which she eventually realises that her other senses are heightened after losing her phone.
Dwayne Johnson & Kevin Hart have great chemistry, they’ve proven that they’re both very charismatic and funny guys, and I enjoyed the flip of the characters’ personalities because it gave the actors some more room to play with their roles. At this point, I feel like I would at least watch anything that either of these two make, either separately or together.
Jack Black & Karen Gillan were fantastic in their respective roles, and I feel like this movie belonged to the two of them, even though they’re the #3 and #4 in the cast list. Karen Gillan continues to demonstrate that she’s a badass on screen after playing Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy, and now this film, I hope that she gets more roles in this genre as I think that it would really work for her. Jack Black is Jack Black, but in this film he does something that I never thought he would do, and that’s to play a teenage girl stuck in his body. That was pure genius, and everything that he did in this movie was perfect for me.
This movie is an example where the final quality of the film depends heavily on the chemistry between the actors, and it works wonders in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. As mentioned above, Hart and Johnson have built in chemistry from their previous work together, and they brought that over into this film, while Black and Gillan had great chemistry together as the “two girls” of the group. I feel like this movie could have easily been a horrible film, and while I still don’t agree with the usage of the brand name, and would have preferred it to be a different name, it worked out in the end.
There were some problems with the pacing of the film, and I feel like the small nod that they did for Robin Williams’ character, Alan Parish from the original film was both nice and felt forced in. It was something that I knew that they were going to do something for him, however having his name carved into a jungle house in the game felt forced and out of place. It’s also weird that Alex was put back in the real world at the exact time that he left it, while Parish wasn’t. Makes it seem that Parish was also part of the game, and just never beat it.
The movie was action heavy while also being extremely hilarious at times. Everything that Jack Black did as Bethany was the best part of the movie, and something that I feel was spot on. The action scenes involving Karen Gillan and her dance fighting was also nice to see, I’ve been a fan of hers since Dr. Who, and I’m happy that she’s getting more action / comedy roles, especially after the great stuff she’s doing over at Marvel as Nebula.
Nick Jonas’ character Alex was given the board game by his father, after finding it on the beach, where the characters from the first game threw it. He doesn’t want to play the stupid board game and goes back to playing video games. Jumanji somehow senses that, and changes itself into a video game, and Alex decides to stupidly play the video game that obviously wasn’t there earlier. He’s been stuck in the game for over 20 years, and has only died twice, which is good on his part. I don’t really have an opinion on the character except to say that it felt shoehorned in.
The villain of the movie wasn’t a particularly strong one, nor original, but he’s supposed to be the bad guy in a video game from the 90s. so there’s not much to go off of. Bobby Cannavale did a good enough job with what he was given, however there wasn’t much given to him to begin with because this movie is all about the heroes.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a film that really pushes the whole debate of is a movie predictable or is it just heavy with the foreshadowing. There were a lot of moments in this film that were heavily foreshadowed, (Spencer falling fo Martha, Alex dying heroically / Bethany (the selfish one) saving him, etc.) while other moments were easy to predict was coming, and the beats of the movie felt like it was following a very straight formula, where I knew when a joke was going to happen, or something scary was about to pop up. It’s not something that really detracted from my viewing experience, but it is something worth noting.
Overall, I feel like this movie had some problems, but was overall a really good movie. I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would, and while there was moments that was starting to get long, it quickly picked back, or a joke was inserted that made you temporarily forget the dip in quality. I would recommend this movie to anyone that feels that this movie was a good idea, or at least open to the idea that this movie could work. There’s a lot of people that might see this movie to say that they were right and that it’s a bad sequel to the original, and yes, this movie didn’t have to be Jumanji, and could have easily been about any game world. On the other hand, it brought a brand name that people recognized.
I enjoyed this movie and at the end of the day I would give this movie a final score of a fun 7.75/10.
Thanks for reading!