Reviews: welcome to the jungle – Jumanji
Directed by Jake Kasdan,
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black
A follow up film to the 1995 movie; this time the game has moved from the board game to what looks like an Atari Game system from the 1980s. Four gigh school students are transported into the world of Jumanji where an ancient stone has been stolen, and an evil man has the dominion over all the creatures of the jungle. It’s down the the four gaming avatars of our high school students who have been transported to Jumanji, they have three lives each (in finest video game tradition), and have to get used to their new bodies and in-game skills in order to survive.
For a lot of film fans there are sacred cows movies, films that we don’t want touched, films that we don’t want sequels to, or that we don’t want remade. For me it’s the first Jaws movie, that is my cinematic love, that is my sacred cow film. If they touch it I will go postal, I will find the directors and move in with them, and that will teach them. But for a lot of the younger adults that I know the first Jumanji film is one of their favourits, and I can see why, it’s a high adventure, fun film. It also stars Robin Williams and I have a lot of love for that man. When I heard that this was being made I already could hear the choir of complaining from these friends in my head. I’m so thankful that for the entire running time I sat there and enjoyed the film from top to bottom.
As the four stereotypical high school students – the geek, the football jock, the popular girl, and the nerdy girl – get transported into the game they find they are changing. The geek becomes the huge hero adventurer, played by Dwayne Johnson, who has no weaknesses and is great at everything. The jock is turned into The Rock’s sidekick played by Kevin Hart. The nerdy girl is turned into the Lara Croft style, kick-asswoman in short-shorts played by Karen Gillan. While the popular girl has the strangest transformation and is turned into, well, Jack Black. What is really great here is that they all have trouble with their new appearances and avatars. Also there is a great nod to the gaming world and the writers seem to have respect for those gaming experiences that those of us who lived through the Playstation One years had.
The adventure is high on the priorities list for the film makers, and the cast have some great chemistry together through the game. The Rock has all his tools that he would have if he’s playing it straight, but mixes in perfectly the real-world character from outside the game, the scared geek, and enjoys himself. Kevin Hart isn’t as annoying here as normal, he seems to be calming down the shouting-acting that he’s known for, which is a welcome change. Gillan is funny and when the action starts seems at home, which is unsurprsising given her Guardians work; when her nerdy girl now in Lara Croft-esque body tries to be sexy its so hilarious. Jack Black has probably the best role in the film, the popular girl becoming an overweight, middle-aged man, and they make the most out of the situation and the talent of Black. It’s probably the best thing Jack Black has done since School of Rock. There I said it, come at me bros, come at me.
The team of heroes are going up against the big evil played by Bobby Cannavale, who seems to be enjoying the whole over the top experience, and he wants the sacred gem back again to continue the ruling of Jumanji land. He can control all the beasts of the land.
I don’t have the huge love for the first film that some people do, apart from my natural love for Robin Williams, which started with Mork and Mindy, so I sat through this film and just enjoyed the light hearted romp that it is. I could take my nephew and niece to this and we’d all have a great time. There are dark moments as the team all start to lose gaming lives through their adventures, and that starts nearly right from the first moments in Jumanji with one character being chomped to death by a hippo. So younger children may find places in this a little too dark, with the blood splatter being a brave choice.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is more stand alone film than sequel so don’t feel the need to rush out and rewatch the 1995 film. Just go in with a mind of being entertained and you will not be disappointed.