Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Movie Review
Back in 1995, the movie “Jumanji” was made from the book, ad Robin Williams was again top with audiences. But that time is gone, so now the next best thing will be.. ‘The Rock’? Yes, Dwayne Johnson has found his way into “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”, and world is a better place for that. The old-style board game of Jumanji is now updated to a 1995 ‘Jumanji’ Nintendo-style video game, with all the basic danger and suspense intact. Instead of Williams getting sucked into a board game, there are four 2017 teens who get the Jumanji video treatment, getting sucked into a world of avatars and multiple lives.
Four teens in high school get detention and are placed into a dusty and dank basement. They are Spencer (a video-game nerd), “Fridge” (a black football star), Bethany (a phone-obsessed drama queen) and Martha (a shy and bookish girl). These four get sucked into “Jumanji”, a video-game version of the original board game. They take the appearance of the character they have selected. Spencer becomes Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), a muscle-bound explorer. Fridge as selected Franklin “Moose” Finbar, who is short zoologist with a large weapons cache. Martha picked Ruby Roundhouse, and she is a powerful commando and fighter. Bethany is now Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon, an older man who has a lot of knowledge that can be very useful.
They find that they all have various strengths and weaknesses as the avatars. Well, except for Bravestone, he is so tough that he has no weaknesses. They also find that they have three ‘lives’. Each one can die in the Jumanji game, and then they will come back to play it again. There is some video-game type plot of finding a missing jewel and returning it to the jaguar statue, then calling out the name to win the game — blah, blah, blah… But they all need to work together to make this happen so they can return to the real world. They also find another player, named Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough (Nick Jonas). Seaplane is an avatar for a guy named Alex, who had gone missing back in 1995. He has hidden himself away to prevent using up his final life.
There is also a Jumanji evil ruler named John Hardin Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale). He is looking for the magic jewel and will at nothing to prevent Bravestone and company from achieving the goal. He has a bunch of evil henchman and can use the creatures of the forest to help him find and stop the group from winning the game. There are many places that they all visit, and some clues that they must figure out. But mostly, they learn to trust in each other and dig deep to find the special talents that each of them possesses.
This a movie that not an ordinary sequel. It is a sequel in spirit, but it comes at it in a whole new way. The idea of somehow becoming part of the inside of the video game makes it more fun. In a way, this is like “Tron”, but this does more to get into the game specifics. The group of avatars are so different than the actual people that they portray, that it becomes a funny gag just itself. All of the main actors get a chance to poke a little fun at their own image, and joke about the things that make them unique.
Dwayne Johnson is as he always is – playing a version of Dwyane Johnson. But he is very funny to play against his own type. Kevin Hart is OK, but his character does wear a little thin after a while. Karen Gillan seems to have a lot of fun, playing an uptight girl in the body of a strong and wild woman. Jack Black does a major, classic and amazing job getting the nuances of speech and behavior of teenage girl — just perfectly getting everything just right. Nick Jonas does not have as much time on the screen, but his role is fun and he does a really good job. Bobby Cannavale plays the villain, and that is about all that can be said.
Perhaps this version will not become a treasured childhood movie, like the original “Jumanji”. It does have some big shoes to fill, with the original starring Robin Williams and being very high up on most people’s list. But if you give this one a chance, you can find that regardless if you play board games or video games, this movie will have a solid place in your trophy chest.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Review
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Summary
Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Screenplay by: Jake Kasdan, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner
Story by: Chris McKenna
Based on: children's book "Jumanji" by Chris Van Allsburg
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale
Length: 119 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for adventure action, suggestive content and some language
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy