‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ Review

jumanji_welcome_to_the_jungle_ver5_xxlgRobin Williams was a national treasure. He was funny, witty, and a great actor. Making a sequel or reboot to one of his films without him in it is an arduous task that anyone would have trouble with, but it looks like the impossible has been done. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is an action-adventure comedy film, directed and co-written by Jake Kasdan. The film is a requel (reboot/sequel) to 1995’s Jumanji and stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas and Bobby Cannavale. The film is set in the fictional town of Brantford, New Hampshire, twenty-one years after the first film, and follows four teenagers who are transported into a video game version of the world of Jumanji. Playing as the characters they chose; the teenagers must beat the game in order to return to the real world. The cast for this film is fantastic. Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Nick Jonas have terrific chemistry. Most of the jokes between them land and even repeated antics feel fresh. Kevin Hart does his usual comedy bits and they work well considering how different the Franklin “Mouse” Finbar avatar is from the real-world version of Fridge. The standouts are Dwayne Johnson (Dr. Smolder Bravestone) and Jack Black (Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon) as they play against type as teenage nerd Spencer and selfie queen Bethany. A few of the film’s comedic moments involve Black’s portrayal of a teenage girl in the body of an overweight middle-aged man. Think The Hot Chick, but a lot funnier. The story feels fresh and not at all a repeat of the original Jumanji. Making the game of Jumanji sentient and changing to match the times is a great choice. This allowed for the film to see what the world inside the game was like, something not seen since the Jumanji animated television series, which ran from 1996 to 1999. The interactions between the teenage group and the NPCs (Non-Player Characters) was another great addition that made Jumanji feel even more like a video game. They repeat the same phrases over and over until the players start the next task. The film does have a few weak spots. The villain Van Pelt, portrayed by Bobby Cannavale, is physically imposing and creepy but is almost a non-issue for the heroes. He doesn’t strike the same amount of fear and danger as the Van Pelt (Jonathan Hyde) of the original Jumanji. The film also struggles with continuity and time travel. Being set in the same world as the original Jumanji, the film should follow the same rules, but it doesn’t. This causes a couple major plot holes in how the story connects to the original film and how time functions inside the world of Jumanji. The film also sets up rules for how the game works that are ignored at times for the sake of making the film flow normally. I give Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle a Decent 8/10. Not quite as good as the original film, but a nice fresh take on a story that many hold dear.

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