Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle: Film Review
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Bobby Cannavale
Director: Jake Kasdan
Positioning itself with its tongue firmly in its cheek at times, and aiming squarely at the family market, the next generation version of Jumanji is surprisingly a relatively fun, fluffy movie that builds on the original and yet somehow becomes its own beast.
20 years after the game was discovered initially, it's re-discovered in a basement of a group of four teenagers confined to detention (can you say Breakfast Club?). But the game is now a video game and when the nerd, the jock, the silent beauty and the self-obsessed girl all wind up inside it by accident, it's a race against time to save Jumanji and escape...
Jumanji Welcome To The Jungle is a bit more fun than you'd expect, largely due to the Rock goofing off in the film and cocking a snook at his persona of rugged action hero.
While Jack Black's attempts to channel an Instagram obsessed teenager occasionally resort to a little bit creepy and the attempts to explain why Karen Gillan's video avatar is so skimpily clothed and behaves like a stripper at one point rankle, there's actually a reasonable pace that carries Jumanji Welcome To the Jungle along at such a pace it's almost infectious and distracts from the levity of the script.
It's largely due to the core cast's chemistry, and even if the rest of what transpires is shallow, it does work well from this factor.
Adhering to the rules of video games and channeling the ethos well, Kasdan gives the film an internal logic that helps greatly (even if his villain seems a little weak in the wash). Channeling Hardcore Henry at the start and NPC elements of video games, as well as some meta moments involving cut scenes, helps it riff on its Uncharted / Indiana Jones / Jumanji vibe. (Though no points to the OTT Sony PlayStation product placement early on)
Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle may not win any awards for being the greatest film of the year, but it has to be said, its pace, willingness to send up its heroes and build on Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson's Central Intelligence chemistry help it to carve out its own strong niche in the family outing market.
Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle does goofy well and its learning lessons may be obvious to many, but given its success at the box office and its ability to bring families to it's "You only have one life and it matters" message are nothing to be sniffed at.