Happy new year everyone. For my first review I’ll give you my reaction to 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is the indirect sequel to the 1995 smash hit Jumanji starring the late great Robin Williams. Like many fans I went to see this film with a lot of apprehension. However, I can say this film delivers. It is nothing like the original. By having this change of direction, it is not weighted down with comparisons of the original or trying to match the performance of Robin Williams.
The film follows four teenagers who during detention discover an old video game. When they begin to play all of them are dragged into the game as their avatars. The Rock is Dr. Smoulder Bravestone an all action hero. However, the real life character is a weak geek and the polar opposite of Bravestone.
Kevin Hart is Mouse Finbar. A small zoologist who is Bravestone’s loyal sidekick. However, inside this character is actually the real life football star of high school.
Jack Black plays Professor Shelly Oberon a fat middle aged cartographer. The real person who chose this character is the high school IT girl obsessed by selfies and boys.
Finally there is Karen Gillian playing Ruby Roundhouse. She is sexy powerful and intelligent. However, the real life character playing her is a nerd who has never kissed a boy.
As part of their quest they must play the video game without losing three lives to save Jumanji from a curse.
This film is one of the funniest films I have seen in a while. Putting stereotypical characters in the opposite stereotype has been done before but this cast plays it to perfection. The chemistry is oozing off the screen. The action is fantastic and gives a fresh perspective to this franchise.
The standout performance in this film comes from Karen Gillian. For those who have followed her career in Dr. Who, it is no surprise to see her blossom on the big screen. She holds her own against some of Hollywood’s biggest names. It is a joy to see young British female talent taking this opportunity. The funniest moments in the film are reserved to Jack Black. His portrayal of a teenage IT girl inside a fat middle aged man is hysterical. The delivery of his one lines feel natural and invoke the desired reaction.
When Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson are on the screen together, it allows both actors to deliver their potential in comedies. They go toe to toe delivering fantastic lines and helps keep the film ticking along.
Despite all the great moments in this film it is not perfect. The running length feels too long for an action comedy. Ideally it needed to be twenty to thirty minutes shorter. By the end of the film you feel drained from the earlier jokes. This detracts from the humour later in the film.
Another weakness of this film is the CGi. For the majority of the film it is fantastic and a match for any film. But due to the incredible action sequences based in a fantasy game world the CGI can not deliver a life like and realistic image. This is not due to a lack of care from the filmmakers, but down to the limits of the current technology. These scenes, luckily, are fleeting and do not impact the film too much.
One of the main reasons I like this film is that it has a clear beginning, middle and end. It does not have any loose ends and unanswered questions. This is a fantastic change from modern cinema where studios are determined to force extended universes on every blockbuster film by leaving unanswered questions or loose ends. This film has s satisfying ending but much like the original, an indirect sequel could be explored if there is appetite for it.
Overall I would rate this film 7 stars out of 10. Despite the weight and shadow of the original looming over this film, a change in direction has allowed the directors and cast to deliver a fantastic action comedy film that is great family fun. The cast are perfect for the roles and a big shoutout must go to the fantastic Karen Gillian.
This film only has small problems. It’s running length is overly long and due to the fantastical action sequences required, there are moments that the CGI can not deliver a realistic image. This is not a fault of the movie, but is a limitation of the current technology. However, it does detract from the quality of the film.