Cert: 12A Runtime: 119 mins Director: Jake Kasdan Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Karn Gillian, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Bobby Cannavale, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Morgan Turner and Rhys Darby
I hate this game
In 1996 Robin William’s Jumanji captured my childhood mind and the animated series freaked me out. A re-boot/sequel has been in the pipeline for a while, even after William’s untimely death a new Jumanji was still happening. The trailer made it look like great fun and it seemed like an OK watch. Once original reviews came out it had a decent buzz to it. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was actually my last movie of 2017! So what is it all about you ask? Four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game’s jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji – you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves – or they’ll be stuck in the game forever.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was great fun, it really fitted well in the festive season plot. The film thematically treads the same sort of ground that other teen movies tend to cover, mainly the stereotypical high school tropes get thrust into a situation that forces them to work together to correct each other’s flaws and by the end they return to their ‘normal’ lives as better people. What the film does different in the body-switching is that these tropes are transferred onto adult actors, people who each have tropes of their own, and the way that each actor gets to play against their type is definitely what makes this movie so fun. On the flipside, like a video game, the villain is very one- dimensional, and while the narrative isn’t necessarily harmed by it, it does stand out as something that’s lacking, wishing that the villain was more than just ‘I will kill you because reasons’.
Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan all make Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle such great entertainment; Johnson milking it while playing a nerd trapped inside the body fit for an action movie star, Hart revelling in the big guy trapped in a small guy’s body role, Black stealing the film as the Instagram obsessed girl playing as an overweight professor, a role he seems so suited for, and Gillan bringing the fierceness when she needs to as Ruby Roundhouse a.k.a. the “Killer of Men” which, as you’ve guessed, is so far away from her character back in the real world. You get a sense that working on this set would have been so much fun. The pace of this film is fast, it doesn’t really drag at all, and while they do repeat a joke or two, it doesn’t step over the line into annoying. All this makes for a very fun film.