"Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" Review

Updated on January 15, 2018
Ross Tanenbaum profile image

Ross is a student at the University of Maryland. He is planning on majoring in Film Studies and English.

A Fun Adventure With Humor and Heart, But Has Very Little Substance

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The original Jumanji from the 1990s is a cheesy classic. I watched it all the time as a kid, however, I never thought that there needed to be a sequel or a reboot of any kind. After Robin Williams unfortunately passed away, I figured Jumanji would never be touched again. When I first saw the trailer for this new one, I was worried. I thought that they were going to turn Jumanji into a big blockbuster action movie, which was totally different from the original. However, after seeing it, I can tell you that I had a very similar reaction that I had to the 90s version. It's nonsensical fun.

Plot

In "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," the evil board game evolves into a video game after discovering that board games are beginning to become outdated. When four high school teens discover the game during detention, they get sucked into the game. They each become the avatars they chose in the game played by Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black. Now, the only way that they can get out of the game is to save Jumanji and beat the game.

Characters

Each one of the high school students represents a specific stereotype in high school. There is the nerdy, awkward guy, the cool jock, the phone-obsessed popular girl, and the quirky, shy girl. When each character transforms into their avatars, they look very different, but their character traits are still there. This gives the actors an opportunity to portray characters that they normally wouldn't get the chance to play in another movie.

Johnson plays the nerdy, awkward guy and he does a good job at capturing that. He acts like a geeky high school kid would act if he woke up one day and was in The Rock's body. Between this and Central Intelligence, Johnson has proven that he's really good at showing what would happen if someone with the mind of a child had his body type.

Hart plays the cool jock character and he is pretty funny in the role, however, Hart doesn't branch out from what he does in other films. He makes a lot of short jokes and he just speaks really fast, but his delivery is fantastic. Even if it's not a joke, just the way that Hart says it makes me laugh.

Gillan plays the quirky, shy girl and I liked her in this role. It's not too far from Gillan's other roles, but she does a good job at selling who her character is supposed to be.

I think the actor whose performance is so far from his normal roles is Black as the popular girl. It is pretty entertaining to see Black impersonating modern popular girls in high school. I thought he did a really good job in this role without overdoing it. This easily could have been annoying, but it wasn't because Black really knows how to make it funny. All of the four leads have great chemistry with one another. They are given a lot of time together and they have a lot of entertaining scenes.

Nick Jonas also appears in a supporting role and I thought he did a good job. I can't go into his character because it might be a spoiler, but I figured out who he was in like the first five minutes. Bobby Cannavale is also in this movie as the villain but he is mostly wasted. He doesn't really do much and anybody could have played this role in the movie.

Direction

Jake Kasdan did a competent job at directing this movie. I don't think he did anything remarkable but he made an entertaining movie and that's all you can really ask for. I did like how he shot the action scenes. They have a lot of energy and they are shot pretty well. Very little shaky cam is used which makes them easy to watch. However, there is nothing really unique about the action. I found myself zoning out sometimes just because I pretty much could predict what was going to happen.

One thing that I did really like about this movie is how the movie uses elements from video games. Each character has their own set of strengths and weaknesses and the characters that are a part of the game have a lot of quirks that can be seen in CPU characters, which gets a lot of humor. I know that there was some controversy over how Gillan is dressed, but that's actually making fun of video games. There are characters like Lara Croft who wear a crop top and booty shorts in the rainforest, so this is a clear parody of that. The CGI on the animals is pretty noticeable, but I hope that's because it's a video game and the animals are supposed to look like that.

The movie's biggest weakness is that it is very paint by numbers. I could guess how this movie was going to start and how it was going to end. It's not necessarily a bad thing, it just made me less invested in the characters. I wish they had taken some unexpected turns, but I still enjoyed what I saw.

Final Thoughts

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a completely enjoyable time at the movie. If you want to watch an entertaining movie where you can just turn your brain off and shove popcorn in your face, then this will probably get the job done. Did this movie leave an impact on me? No, but I am happy that I watched this movie. It may not be an oscar contender, but it is still a worthwhile trip to the movies.

Rating: 7/10

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