Four high school kids Spencer (Alex Wolff), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Bethany (Madison Iseman), and Martha (Morgan Turner) discover an old video game console while in detention 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.
Unlike some people who enjoyed the 1995 film, based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, I wasn’t too nostalgic for that movie besides the fact that it had the late, great Robin Williams. By no means is it a terrible movie, but there wasn’t anything that connected me to it. Just like with Pitch Perfect 3, I didn’t think this looked good at all since doing a sequel or reboot sounded like a dumb idea and the trailers just couldn’t get me to buy them, in my opinion. However, I was giving this a chance only because I love The Rock. Walking into this, this could be another Journey 2: The Mysterious Island or Spy Kids 3D: Game Over in the worst way possible. But I have proven wrong once again because Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle wasn’t bad as there’s a lot of fun in here.
They brought in the avatar element in a way that actually worked in its favor. Here, you have Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Spencer’s avatar who’s an archaeologist with a huge bod instead of a skinny nerd; Moose Finbar (Kevin Hart), Fridge’s avatar who’s a short-sized zoologist instead of this huge jock; Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), Martha’s avatar as in jungle wear instead of this closed-off shy girl; and Pro. Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), Bethany’s avatar who’s an overweight, middle-aged male cartographer instead of this popular selfie-obsessed girl. I actually bought these characters even with their avatars. All of them had pretty good chemistry with each other and all of them have shown off their comedy skills, especially when Johnston and Hart worked together last year in Central Intelligence.
The two biggest standouts were both Johnson and Black as they both played against type, and it’s was hilarious. Black as the teenage girl stole every scene he’s in and he could’ve been annoying the entire time, but was had the biggest amount of humor here. Kevin Hart is basically playing Kevin Hart, which disappoints me because that’s a concern I’ve been having with him over and over again on the basis that he plays himself every time and nothing’s different. But he was actually funny despite me not being a fan of him.
The concept of the board game turning into a video game sounded stupid in the first place. But the way it incorporated video game logic into the movie was pretty amazing as they have three lives, have their strengths and weaknesses, and they interact with NPC’s to get them through the game in the craziest way possible. How ironic is that a movie that isn’t based on a video game is better than every video game movie?
And I was surprised with how much I laughed out of this. None of the trailers made me laugh, but the humor had me laughing with having it feel generic. Some of the jokes go for that PG-13 humor, which absolutely landed.
This is the best work director Jake Kasdan done in his career since Walk Hard 10 years ago. He does a good job of handling action while there was noticeable in within them making it just fun with everything all around. The script also worked in a tone that’s different from the first movie to where it’s more humorous while also giving some touching moments sprinkled in.
A few issues that plague the film down was Bobby Cannavale as the main villain was very forgettable and didn’t have that much to do. The humor kind of stalled for a little bit before the third act began. And I would say the setup felt rushed for me since I thought there for a story that doesn’t feel too impressive.
In the end, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle really shocked me in a way that’s unexpected that didn’t make me hate it when it was over. It did want to be needed to do without disrespecting the legacy of the original, and instead made it something new and entertaining. I don’t know if I would like the original movie better just by re-watching it. but it serves as a solid standalone sequel.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle turned out to be a surprise with its chemistry between its stars, humor, and being better than the original in some way performed.