• Guy Jeffries

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle


Director: Jake Kasdan.

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan.

So the board game goes TRON and instead of it coming out, the players get sucked in. It credits the writing to Chris Van Allsburg’s original children’s book that was first published in 1981 and also credits the screenwriters from the first film, both of which are more suited to each other than this reboot. This is more of an inspired movie that paraphrases the source material for a modern audience. It’s rather an expansion on the idea as opposed to being based on.

Jake Kasdan, director of Sex Tape, Bad Teacher and Orange County takes a break from adult based humour to family fun adventure. (There’s part of me that wants to refrain from mentioning the fact he’s the son of writer/director Lawrence Kasdan, why should it matter who his father is, but then again, the pretentious part of me what’s to show off the fact.)

We follow four archetypal high school kids getting sucked into a computer game and falling into their chosen avatars which are four very different archetypal computer game protagonists. This mix up of identities provides the foundation of some great comedy. Especially the chemistry between Johnson’s and Hart’s characters and Black’s character going from pompous, high school fashionista beauty to a middle aged, plump explorer in the shape of Jack Black (no offence Mr. Black!)

I wanted to see the Johnson/Hart chemistry I so adored on and off screen from Central Intelligence but alas, there’s way more off it found off screen during their promotional rallies than in the film. This isn’t the first movie The Rock has been in with the title “Welcome to the Jungle”, original titled Rundown had him star opposite and chase down Seann William Scott and got monkey-humped. (This bears no real relevance to this, but I enjoyed that film.)

GotG’s Nebula, Karen Gillan does superb standing in amongst these comedic giants and would like to think she had a lot of fun. But it’s Jack Black that steals the show and it’s clearly seen he definitely has the most fun playing a pretentious high school girl. I was actually happy to see Rhys Darby again after Hunt for the Wilderpeople as the wacky NPC tour guide. (gamer talk for Non-Playable Character.)

As for the story, it’s pretty linear and straight forward, but who’s asking for much here. The only elements that’s recognisable from the first film is the essence of the story and much of the props used. The trailers give away most of the best littles bits and the rest of the films feels like weak filler.

It’s not boring, especially for a film with a runtime of very nearly two hours. The action is good enough to be entertaining but the CGI isn’t exactly fresh or up to par. The VFX could have definitely been done better, especially by today’s standard. Maybe the budget run out on having the now highest-paid-actor, according to Forbes and the rest of the big cast.

Not entirely sure who the target audience is here whether it be fans of the original, or the new breed of gamers. Probably trying to please both camps as the respect for both cultures are there. But it’s certainly aimed at the more teenage audiences, skirting it quite borderline with a 12A certificate.

Henry Jackman does a fitting yet forgettable score that’s reminiscent of 80’s adventure films. Big, triumphant orchestrated stuff as opposed to the softer, dreamy and fantasy orientated score the late James Horner did for the first film. But it does suit the movie very well, it just not a score I’ll repeat listening to, let alone buy.

It’s a clever and cute reboot to a much loved family film but doesn’t have the same magic. Maybe I’m too old to appreciate this or just that I’m missing Robin Williams. I’m sure fans of The Rock and kids that love adventure will enjoy this film more than I did. I get the feeling there was more fun had off screen making this film that sadly wasn’t captured in the feature.

Running Time: 9

The Cast: 8

Performance: 7

Direction: 7

Story: 5

Script: 5

Creativity: 4

Soundtrack: 5

Job Description: 4

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

54% 5/10

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