Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle starts out on a strong “Breakfast Club” note, as anyone could tell. Four soon-to-be unlikely friends are all stuck in detention. Before long they get sucked into the updated, video game rendition of “Jumanji”.
Inside the game, they realize that each of them has been transported into the lifelike body of their chosen avatar on a jungle-type island. The game itself is explained, though there are plenty of “what ifs”. Essentially, the group must manage to complete one grand quest if they want to leave the island.
Along the way, they encounter another player, one who has been stuck on the island for quite some time. They also face perils and try not to lose their three lives. There are a few “fatalities” but none of them are gory. In fact, they’re all played out in a fairly cartoon-ish way given the family-friendly billing of the film.
Once it’s over, you won’t really come away with much. You will have been entertained. The movie is funny if nothing else. It doesn’t hold a candle to the first Jumanji but few sequels do justice to their predecessors. Overall, the film is good, family-friendly fun.
The unlikely cast stars:
Dwayne Johnson as Dr. Bravestone.
Jack Black as Bethany, the popular girl turned into a squat, middle-aged professor.
Karen Gillian as Martha, the wallflower turned into commando Ruby Roundhouse.
Kevin Hart as “Fridge” the jock-type turned into a zoologist with less than his usual stature.
Nick Jonas as Alex, the one who’s been trapped here for a long time.
Bobby Cannavale as VanPelt, the villain.
Reboot, Sequel, or…?
The original Jumanji was a technological marvel at its time. The special effects were new, daring, and incredibly well executed. Add to that a good measure of formulaic adventure movie and a few great actors and you get something that’s still fun to watch on occasion.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is not meant to be a reboot of that movie. Its more of an indirect sequel that tries a little too hard to connect itself to it’s predecessor. The transformation from Jumanji: The Board Game to Jumanji: The Video Game may have been one of the strangest decisions of all. To make it work, you didn’t need to make it a video game and the mechanics of that particular brand of game don’t seem to fit Jumanji: WttJ all that well.
Who is “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” for?
Anyone who needs to spend a few hours watching something. Preferably something funny and family-friendly. There are few people it would offend.
The only real, notable criticism of the movie’s content and the message it gives involves Karen Gillian’s costume. Unlike her fully-clothed and well-prepared counterparts, the costume given to Ms. Gillian’s character, Ruby Roundhouse, is lacking. It may be a shout-out to how many video game women are typically portrayed, but in a movie where most gaming references are basic or not terribly self-aware, it just comes off as exploitative.
How Does it Measure Up?
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, is, overall, a decent way to spend a few hours with your family. It won’t be memorable, it’s not a film that changes lives or creates many lasting memories. What it is, is entertaining in an easy, family-friendly way. Sometimes that’s enough.
Is this a movie you should see before you die? No. Move on. Is it perfect for a regular family movie night? Quite possibly.
This review was written by a freelancer.