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Film Review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a hilarious, family-friendly film that is sure to bring in the crowds this summer. With some of Hollywood’s biggest stars and a very witty script, this film is definitely a light-hearted crowd pleaser.

Directed by Jake Kasdan (Sex Tape, Bad Teacher), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel to the original Jumanji film from 1995 and a risky move given the popularity of the first film. If you are a die hard Jumanji fan, I would keep your expectations low of this sequel delivering the same caliber of adventure and magical beasts that explode on your screen. However, if you are just up for a good time and a few laughs, this is a must watch!

The film explores the relationship between four high school students who decide to play a game after being sent to school detention (yes, The Breakfast Club was going through all of our heads watching this). The four students get sucked into the video-game-console update of the Jumanji board game from the first film and morph into their chosen avatars. It is apparent that the new video game characters oppose the student’s real life characters. The goofy nerd Spencer turns into the muscle man hero Dr.SmolderBravestone (Dwayne Johnson). The popular jock becomes the pint-sized sidekick, Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart), the shy outcast morphs into the butt-kicking babe Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), and the selfie obsessed popular Bethany becomes an overweight middle-aged male scientist, Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon (Jack Black).

What is great in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is the cast. In particular, the cast’s delivery of a wonderfully written script by Chris Mckenna (The LEGO Batman Movie). The highlight was definitely Jack Black’s portrayal of Bethany, the aforementioned selfie obsessed popular girl. Black manages to seamlessly portray a teenage female without coming across as crude. The charisma and chemistry between the four main cast members is the reason why this film will be a success.

My problem with this film was that it was five degrees of separation from the original. If it wasn’t for the drum sound effects and the visuals of the Jumanji board game/video game at the beginning, this film could have been about any video game. There was no build-up of tension or anything remarkably memorable about the story. The audience is aware that there is an archnemesis, a prophecy and a magical MacGuffin that could save the world of Jumanji, but the details are left scarce with little to no development throughout.

At times the film contradicts itself. An example can be seen through scenes that show the villain plotting his attack without our players seeing, even though the whole premise is meant to be based around being inside a video game. These were not cut scenes either as it was made clear from the beginning that all players can see cut scenes.

Regardless, for all of its shortcomings, this film delivers a barrel of laughs that make it worthwhile watching. Is this film going to be a classic to be remembered another 22 years down the track? I would say no. Is it worth watching over the holidays for a laugh? Definitely!

Give this one a go and you will not be disappointed.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle will be released in Australian cinemas on 26, December 2017.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
3.5 Our Score
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Pros
- Cast - Well written script - Beautiful scenery (Hawaii)
Cons
- Very predictable story, too far separated from the original Jumanji
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