Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle                     review by Bobby Blakey

When they announced they were doing a new Jumanji movie people got pretty upset as the 1995 original feature starring the late great Robin Williams is loved by many. The latest film is actually a sequel to the original as opposed to a reboot and features a great cast including Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan, but does it capture the essence of what makes Jumanji a classic or will it lose the game altogether?

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle follows four high school kids who discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game's jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose. What they discover is that you don't just play Jumanji - you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they'll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves - or they'll be stuck in the game forever. I am happy to report that I had a ton of fun with this movie. There is so much here to love that captures the world of Jumanji in a fresh new way that it made it still have a sense of originality to it. I was a bit worried at the beginning because I really disliked the opening set ups introducing the four teens prior to starting the game. I know these moments are important to understand who they are and how they are connected, but it just felt forced and off for some reason. Thankfully once they become their avatars the fun begins and it really delivers.

There are so many clever things here that made this a fun film, but the biggest has to be from the main cast themselves. Every one of them brought the mannerisms of the teens to life and you totally buy into what has happened. Johnson has always had a flare for comedy and can obviously bring the action, but here he slaps the two together while still showcasing the insecurities of the character to funny results. Hart brings his usual quick wit and confidence to his character making him the brunt of a lot of jokes while never being a buffoon and still getting plenty of moments to shine. Gillan gets a lot to do in action and awkwardness and kills it all. My favorite of them all had to be Jack Black who fully embodies the female side of his character down to the last physical detail. I loved this entire cast together who all had great chemistry and are clearly having a blast with these roles.

 

The story itself is pretty well thought out and while it is all its own, it has a great little moment that connects it back to the original in a respectful and simplistic unforced way. There are some predictable moments here, but it still gave me some of the same fun feels I got when I saw the original in theaters back in 1995. The effects are well done and there are tons of laughs and action that should no doubt entertain all ages. I was happy to see that the teen characters later in the film actually work way better for some reason and in turn make the entire film end up knocking it out of the park.

In addition to the mega hit film this release will include numerous bonus features including a gag reel, numerous featurettes behind bringing this film to life and the music video “Jumanji Jumanji” by Jack Black and Nick Jonas. Step into the game and grab you copy of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle available now on Digital HD, 4K Ultra, Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

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