Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – Film Review

 

I am a HUGE fan of the 1995 Jumanji, it is one of my childhood favourites and makes me incredibly nostalgic, so I was both annoyed and upset when they announced this sequel because I didn’t want them to ruin it. I went into this with a seriously critical eye, wanting to hate it with a passion, but I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining it was.

In this sequel, Jumanji has morphed into a video game that ends up in the basement of a high school. Four students dig it out while in detention and play the game – but they end up in the jungle as the avatars they selected for themselves. Spencer (Alex Wolff) is now Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) is now Moose Finbar (Kevin Hart), Martha (Morgan Turner) is Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) and Bethany (Madison Iseman) ends up in a man’s body – Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black).

The group, as their avatars, must complete the levels of the game in the jungle and fight off Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale), his minions and the jungle animals (which are under his control) to escape the game, along with Seaplane McDonough (Nick Jonas).

What I like about this sequel is that it is not trying to be the old Jumanji. It is very different and only is part of the same franchise because of the name and the ‘kids getting sucked into a game’ premise. When it was first announced, I thought it would be exactly the same – kids battling the Jumanji elements in the real world – so I’m glad they explored the ‘sucked into the jungle’ side of it.

When I was young, I found Jumanji really scary and I don’t know if that level of scares and threat will be there for youngsters watching this sequel, especially as the CGI isn’t always 100%. But what this one lacks in threat, it makes up for with laughs. I liked that it went down the comedy route – it is hilarious and I laughed out loud at lot – Johnson and Hart’s chemistry is always a joy to behold, but Black was the winner, nailing it every single time. Making him a girl was a genius move.

It did lack that sense of adventure the other one had and the in-game plot could have been tighter because it sometimes felt like they were just stringing together scenes of comedic banter and not focusing on the task at hand.

I really wanted to hate it, but I couldn’t because it is thoroughly enjoyable, the cast are all perfect choices for the avatars (with the exception of Gillan, who was fine but nothing spectacular) and they looked like they had so much fun. I imagine kids will love this.

In cinemas Wednesday 20th December

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