One from the to watch pile…
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
Film: Unfortunately we like in an entertainment world where mainstream blockbuster Hollywood has no original ideas and if they aren’t remaking older or non-English films, adapting novels or comics, they are making sequels to films that either didn’t need them, or are just from so long ago they make be irrelevant.
The real sad thing is that we just lap them up like idiots desperate for a fix of nostalgia.
This film was directed by Jake Kasdan, who has directed other comedies like Sex Tape and Dewey Cox, from a script by this McKenna and Eric Sommers, who gave us Spiderman Homecoming, Scott Rosenberg, who gave us Con Air and the remake of Gone in Sixty Seconds, and Jeff Pinkner, who gave us The 5th Wave. Interesting, if you think of the tone of the films I mentioned, this is right alongside all of them, with the teen relationships and the action/ adventure spectacular.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle starts basically when the original finished, with a jogger, in 1996, discovering the Jumanji board game on the beach, and taking it home to his son, who discards it because it’s not a video game… but Jumanji is smarter than that and transforms itself into a video game, and quickly, the kid, Alex, is sucked into the game.
Flash forward to now, and four kids who would never relate to each other at school, nerdy Spencer (Alex Wolff), mean girl Bethany (Madison Iseman), jock ‘Fridge’ (Ser’darius Blain) and school weirdo, Martha (Morgan Turner) have been put on detention for various offences and whilst they have a particular task to do, they find an old video game, and decide to plug it in and play it.
Of course they are sucked into the game, and Spencer is transformed into hero Smoulder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge becomes the short zoologist Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart), Martha becomes man-killer martial artist Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) and Bethany becomes middle-aged, overweight MALE cartographer Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) and have a series of missions given to them by Nigel (Rhys Darby) and are in opposition to game bad guy, Russel Van Pelt (Bobby Carnivale) who has stolen a gem which is the only thing that will get them home once it is placed in the head of the jaguar mountain where it belongs, but can these different personalities work together to win, and will they discover what happened to Alex?
There is nothing new here. The concept of the Jumanji game, obviously, is stolen from the original and the personality dynamics of the kids sucked into the game are straight out of The Breakfast Club, but together, and this is thanks to the script and performances, they work. The special effects are clearly CGI and hyper-real but considering they are in a video game, that kind of works.
There are a couple of nice throwbacks to the first film too, so the legacy of Robin Williams’ film is intact.
The cast are a blast and special mention has to go to Jack Black portrayal of a 16 year old girl stuck in the body of a 4t years old fat bloke. Interestingly though, for me, the weirdest thing about this film is seeing Karen Gillan smile. She was a grumpy bitch in Doctor Who, an alien assassin in the Marvel films and a moody crank in Oculus so to see her smile was refreshing, I mean her resting bitch face is lovely, but her smile is amazing.
Basically, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a fine distraction, with a fair few funny moments and an inventive way of reimagining itself, but it certainly won’t ever appear on the top of anyone’s favourite film lists, nor will it probably be remembered as a modern day piece of classic cinema.
Format: The film was reviewed on the Australian multi-region Bluray which runs for approximately 1 hour and 59 minutes, and is presented in an absolutely spectacular 2.39:1 image with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track.
Extras: There is a great bunch of extras on this disc:
Gag Reel is just what you would think it is, but it’s just not that funny. Odd, considering the presence of Hart, Black and Johnson.
Journey Through The Jungle: The Making Of Jumanji is hosted by Rhys Darby (who playedNigel in the film) and goes through an abbreviated making of the film.
Meet the Players looks at the cast of the film.
Surviving the Jungle is a behind the scenes of the stunts of the film.
Attack of the Rhinos dissects a particular scene from the film.
Book to Board Game to Big Screen and Beyond: Celebrating the Legacy Of Jumanji celebrates the entire history of the film.
Jumanji, Jumanji Music Video is a music clip performed by the cast and is truly the funniest thing on the whole disc.
WISIA: Even though I enjoyed it, I’m probably not going to watch it again.