Review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
6 10

PLOT: Four teens stuck in detention dig up an old console videogame, Jumanji, and find themselves sucked into an adventure where each gets an all-new avatar, and must work together in order to return home lest they be stuck in the game forever – or die.

REVIEW: JUMANJI is one of those nineties movies that, I’m sure, is one many of our readers are nostalgic about. I was born in ’81, so in the fall of ’95, when the original came out, I was already fourteen and more geared up for the newest Bond movie (GOLDENEYE) than this family adventure. I remember seeing it once on VHS and thinking Robin Williams was funny in it, but that the VFX (archaic CGI) were terrible, and I’ve never seen it since. So, I went into JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE with a pretty clean slate, hoping for a light adventure comedy, and sure enough that’s exactly what The Rock was cookin’ in this well-timed holiday release.

Directed with some panache by director Jake Kasdan (WALK HARD, BAD TEACHER), JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE admittedly has a great hook that plays to the strengths of its star cast. Initially introducing us to a gang of teens, once they’re sucked into the game each gets an against-type avatar, with nerdy Alex Wolff becoming Dwayne Johnson’s Smoulder Bravestone, while his jock bully becomes the short-statured Kevin Hart, aka Moose Finbar, Bravestone’s weapons valet. The shy girl in class becomes Karen Gillan’s vivacious, abs-of-steel-laden heroine, Ruby Roundhouse, while the hot-girl becomes Jack Black’s portly Professor Shelly Oberon.

As usual, Johnson tries to deflate his ultra-manly image by playing-up the fact that his body is being occupied by a gawky kid with no idea how to handle it, while Hart gets a lot of mileage out of the fact that his character is an alpha-male cut down to size. Gillan has a strong showcase in the kick-butt action role, with her skimpy costume being played for laughs, while Black utterly steals the show as the hot girl both repulsed and fascinated by her new body, particularly his – well – you know…

It’s all tied together by a light adventure plot, which is higher on the pyrotechnics than the original, with motorcycle-riding, machine gun packing bad guys led by a demonic Bobby Cannavale (who I usually love – but am not quite sure fit the part here) chasing our heroes. This gives Johnson the chance to pound some faces, while Gillan gets to show off her character’s big skill – dance fighting. Each avatar has three lives, with very little in the way of any true menace occurring anywhere along the way. It may be louder than the original, but it’s just as geared to kids (except perhaps those light scatological Jack Black gags).

Kasdan and company keep JUMANJI : WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE moving along at a nice pace, with a few solid (and deliberately cartoony) action scenes thrown in to attract the older teens. Everyone, especially Johnson, seems to be having fun with the material, and this vibe is infectious, making it a solid holiday watch for families – which I figure puts it right in line with the original.

Source: JoBlo.com



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