Before the review begins I must tell you something. When I was young Jumanji was a movie that I loved and watched many times. In the movie there is a scene where Alan Parrish (Robin Williams) describes what it is like to be inside the world of Jumanji itself. He describes a place of terrors where things do in deed go bump in the night and worse. This description stuck with me for years. When they made an animated series about it we got to see inside Jumanji and it was indeed a place of many terrors. This movie does not seek to give us such a place so that is a gripe I have but have to put aside for professional reasons. Onto the review.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a self aware action movie that does everything these movies do but at the same time pokes fun of itself for being said cliche action movie. So it’s a little more refreshing and forgivable than most movies of this sort.
This is a “”sort of sequel” where there was a movie that came before but this move doesn’t need to dwell on it too much, merely take the story engine and run with it. There is a magical game called Jumanji which throws difficulties at the players and gives clues and they must make it to the end.
It opens in 1996 on a beach where some pedestrian finds a wooden board-game and brings it home. The man is unimpressed with a board game and more interested in his PlayStation, so it transforms itself into a gaming console. In recent years board-games have made a resurgence so it seems to be a case of bad timing. In becoming a gaming console the man plays it and disappears, cut to present day.
We are then introduced to a new group of teenage characters living their lives and attending school. Through acts of their own faults they all receive detention and must serve it together even though they would never hangout together usually (ala The Breakfast Club). The do barely anything before they get distracted and find the gaming console of Jumanji, plug it in and are sucked into the jungle world.
When they land inside the jungle they become the avatars they picked. Spencer is Dr Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) a peak specimen of physicality yet is offset by his germophobe, neurotic personality on the inside. Matha is Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillian) a beauty that is dressed impractically for an action adventure (most likely because she was designed by a man). Fridge becomes the short sidekick Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart) with probably the shortest list of skills and longest list of weaknesses. Then there’s Bethany that goes from a teenage beauty queen to Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) an overweight, middle aged man. Being that they are filling in stereotypical roles that are preset and the characters are playing then against the what their roles call for it adds a funner dynamic to the situation and comedy.
The villain (Bobby Cannavale) is an explorer that has gone mad with power and seeks to gem and also his time with has granted him the power to control the creatures in the world and one of his eyes to turn white (for some reason). He exists to simply be an antagonist and is rather non-threatening and quite forgettable.
The world of Jumanji is one where there are many threats and traps so the players have to keeps their wits about them and utilize their skills to navigate the world. Also classic to old-school games, they have three lives.
There are a few references that are in the movie to the original. They go by quick but also don’t slow down the passe of the movie. As a fan I actually did appreciate these and for someone that never seen it they’re not a detriment.
The movie does everything that an action movie is suppose to do but it comes with characters that are self aware and poke fun of their situation so it is less monotonous than the many other movies of this genre. It sets up its rules and they are utilised for plot reasons and aren’t broken, so the whole is rather solid. There are lines that will date it terribly and it still is a clichéd action movie but at lest it has fun with itself and so do we.
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