“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is directed by Jake Kasdan and stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan. The film is a sequel to the 1995 film starring Robin Williams and is about four high schoolers who get sucked into a video game with as characters much different than their actual personas, and from there they are forced to work together to save the world of Jumanji and escape the virtual world.
To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure how to feel going into this movie. The trailers and premise seemed alright, but I was still skeptical about continuing off a movie that is over 20 years old, and one that is only all that cherished because of nostalgia. Still, the film cast three of the most charismatic actors working today with Johnson, Black, and Hart, so I was hoping that their performances would help carry this movie and make it something truly fun.
As I predicted, it is the star power of this movie that makes the whole machine run, and its’ stars really came to perform. Jack Black as teenage hot girl Bethany, is everything that I could have ever imagined it being. Black is 100 percent believable playing the part, and the way he is able to use these teenage girl tropes to do his typical brand of humor made me laugh every single time. Dwayne Johnson as the lead character of Spencer is also terrific, as The Rock is able to accurately be a scared nerd when it was called for, and he does it with charm, and without going over the top. Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan are great in the other lead roles as well, and the chemistry between these four is great, but it is each of their abilities to play a character within a character that I was impressed with the most.
This is a movie built to entertain more than anything else, and I respect that viewpoint a lot, and Jake Kasdan certainly delivered the fun with this movie. This film is a blast for most of its runtime, and, regardless of its shortcomings, I often overlooked them simply because of how enjoyable it is to watch these characters and to watch the story that is created around them.
The decision to take this movie in such a different direction than the 1995 movie was a very smart choice, and it made this movie work on its own merit instead of in comparison to its predecessor. The decision to make the classic board game into a video game works wonders for the storyline and for the comedy, as there are numerous jokes and references to video game tropes that worked very well to make the film feel fresh.
The storyline takes just enough twists and turns to continuously be interesting, but it is the comedic timing and delivery by the main cast that makes the plot stand tall. The comedy flows seamlessly from start to finish, and it made this movie an experience that was way more fun than it should have been.
If I’m being picky, which I guess I have to be, there are elements and moments scattered throughout that felt a little cheesy, or a little ridiculous even within the context of the movie. However, these little moments never are enough to set back the fast-paced and light-hearted tone that made the movie so fun to begin with.
The villain, played by Bobby Cannavale, is pretty subpar, and I wish that he was as fun to watch as the rest of the cast. Cannavale’s character is the generic bad guy that is seen far too often in both movies and video games, and it often seems to be questionable what exactly the extent of his powers are.
There isn’t all that much in terms of suspense, even in the final moments of the film. This could have been a major issue if the vast majority of this movie wasn’t so fun, but it didn’t end up bothering me as much as it could have if handled poorly.
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” was a very pleasant surprise. The movie knew exactly what it had to do to separate itself from the original and successfully did so with smart comedy, a fantastically upbeat tone, and actors who completely bought in and gave really solid performances. Su
re, there are small things here and there and the villain could use a lot of work, but I had a blast with “Jumanji,” and I highly recommend seeing it if you are a fan of the 1995 movie.
What did you think of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”? Comment below with your thoughts.