Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Movie Review
I originally was 100% against this film but then Dwayne Johnson came to the rescue and stated that this film will be a sequel to the original and will be respectful of it. So my hope was rekindled and the more ads I saw the more excited I got. I loved the cast and I let my expectations rise. But when I saw the film, my hope slowly began to fade and I was left feeling like I was lied to by someone I respected.
The film follows four kids who are all given detention for various reasons. The principal takes them to the school basement to do busy work. Oh, I should probably point out that they were unsupervised. Kinda like The Breakfast Club. What could 4 kids possibly do when unsupervised? Anyway, one of the kids finds an old game system from 1996 that was donated by the family of a kid who had disappeared 20 years earlier. The group hooks it up and decides to play it out of boredom. They are all sucked into the game and are forced to play through Jumanji in order to get back home.
Okay so, the story itself I don't have a problem with. I at first immediately compared the film's villain Van Pelt to the original. I was initially upset because the Van Pelt we all know and fear is an expert marksman with the best moustache in the jungle. This new Van Pelt was younger with black hair and a lot freakier. But I got to thinking that, in the original Jumanji, Alan was sucked into the game in 1969 and when he won time reset to the moment he was taken. So, with that in mind, it is very possible that the original Van Pelt had a son in that time. After all, there are characters that have always lived inside the game. We just didn't meet them last time. It would have been nice, however, to have at least had some sort of dialogue that would confirm that but unfortunately the film is extremely open and didn't really think through all the plot holes loyal fans of the original will undoubtedly find.
The biggest issue I had was the extreme tone change. The original was mostly dark and serious with some comedic moments. This one was practically all comedy with maybe one or two serious moments. I'm not against taking a more comedic approach but a lot of the jokes were extremely awkward and some were even unnecessary and did nothing for the film. The other issue was the change from board game to video game. I was wondering how exactly they would pull that off and I was honestly left underwhelmed. I realize the game is enchanted in a sense but can it really will itself to take other forms? Is it actually that strong of magic? This film just raised a ton of questions that will probably never be answered. The final issue was that when the game changed forms, it also changed its own mythos. It was no longer a world that reacted with the outside world. It was a world that was restricted to certain motions and certain dialogue just like a video game. It was way less daunting in video game form and nowhere near as frightening. It was almost basic in the sense that you could pretty well guess what was going to happen next and 99% of the time you'd be right. The animals changed too. Remember the mosquitoes in the first? The were monstrous and ripped the top off a car. In this they were microscopic and unseen. Huh? Change back into a board game. You were more fun that way.
There were positive elements though that puts me on the fence about the film. For one, the cast was spectacular. Jack Black was the standout performer and had me cracking up throughout the whole film. Karen Gillan was the next best, showing that she has some good acting range. While she was still the kickass female lead, she was also insecure and gave us a more relatable character. Dwayne Johnson comes in third as the sometimes funny and sometimes annoying lead man. Kevin Hart comes in last as he generally played the character he always plays: whiny and loud.
The second positive was that we actually got to see the hut that Alan Parrish built all those years ago when he had been sucked into the game. It was a nice reference to the original but far from a tribute to Robin. It was more like they just threw it in there because so many people were upset about this originally being a remake. The continuity was laughable at best.
In conclusion, I had some fun in the theater but I was more disappointed than happy with the film. The cast's acting was a huge plus but the continuity issues was a huge negative. So, I give the film a 2 out of 4.
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© 2017 Alec Zander