Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle is a fresh, updated take on the Robin Williams classic that delivers big laughs and thrills. The movies A-list cast of Dwyane Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black carry this film on their backs and for the most part succeed. Not every joke hits but the ones that do get big laughs, and the action sequences are pulse poundingly entertaining.
The movie starts with a teenager named Alex discovering the classic board game washed up on a beach in 1996. Alex would rather play his video game console than an old board game so Jumanji takes note and transforms itself. Alex gets trapped in the game and we have a 20 year time jump, where we’re introduced into our main characters.
Spencer is your average nerdy student who is afraid of everything. Bethany is the popular egocentric girl who thinks the world revolves around her. Fridge is the jock who’s struggling with his schoolwork. Martha is the unathletic shy girl who’s just trying to focus on her academic future.
One thing leads to another and they all end up in detention where they stumble upon jumanji. They select their avatars and then get sucked into a dangerous jungle world. The premise is simple return a broken gem to a jaguar statue in the middle of the jungle, while fending off hordes of animals and henchmen led by the story’s villian, Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavales). Oh and you only have three lives, if you die after the third you die in real life.
All the avatars are complete opposites of their real life characters. Spencer is Dr Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), a tough guy with no weaknesses. Fridge is Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart), a zoologist and Dr Bravestones glorified weapons valet. Martha is Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), a badass woman who specializes in “dance fighting”. Bethany is professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), a map expert.
The film is at its best when all the characters are discovering all their new abilities and trying to adapt to their new bodies. Jack Black steals the show playing an Instagram loving girl stuck in a overweight middle aged man’s body. He has the best jokes in the whole movie and embodies the persona better than I think anyone else could’ve. Having previously worked together, Hart and Johnson have great chemistry with each other and we notice it whenever they’re onscreen. Gillan hilariously plays the shy and awkward girl stuck in the femme fatales body. Towards the middle of the film we catch up with Alex (Nick Jonas) again as a pilot who has been stuck in the game for twenty years on his last life because he can’t get past a mission.
The film excels in its comedic moments and it’s thrilling action sequences. Unfortunately, the movie tends to get dragged down a bit when it departs these scenes to focus on character development and growth on our main characters. The villain isn’t fleshed out and when it seems like we’re gonna get an epic confrontation in the finale, we don’t and feel let down. The ending is cheerfull as we catch up with our characters in the real world and witness how they react to their recent adventure, and the possibilities of more to come.
Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle is a fun and refreshing take on an old classic. It delivers a ton of humor and the action set pieces are exhilarating. It’s not an Oscar worthy movie by any means but it’s an entertaining and hilarious family fun ride for everyone to enjoy.