Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – 3.5/5 – Remakes and sequels are all the rage.  No matter the genre, you will wind up with a lot of films being a continuation or rehashing of something from before to capture that nostalgia for the audience.  With any luck, there is a chance that these films can be good.  For Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, it mixes both things.  With some odd twist with plot developments, we have a film that captures that thing audience crave.  Even for some obvious filming clichés, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a surprise hit that is above average entertainment for the whole family.

Premise:  As four teenagers become trapped in a video game, they must find a way to win and return back to the real world.

The acting is two halves of a whole.  What I mean is you have the ‘actual’ characters from the normal world, and the ‘adventure’ characters.  The latter replaces the former in the game setting.  For the actors/actresses that play the actual characters, they aren’t great.  What you have are basic archetypes of any teenager that are there to setup the plot.  Outside of being used for story purposes, they have no real value as characters.  For the adventure characters, you have the following people:

Dwayne Johnson as Dr. Smolder Bravestone

Jack Black as Professor Sheldon Oberon

Kevin Hart as Franklin Finbar

Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse

These four do a fantastic job capturing the essences of teenagers trapped in adult bodies.  By combining the indifference of two different minds, you have a dynamic that fleshes out purpose for the individual.  The unique draw is in creating the ‘game’ characters.  By being atypical with common classes from video games, you get a plethora of witty dialogue and well-developed relationships.  It is these four that become the heart of the film, leveling out anything bad from their real-world counterparts.  The secondary cast (mostly encompassing the game world) are obvious archetypes for the ‘action/adventure’ genre.

The direction follows the basics of an action/adventure film layered with a well-known property (Jumanji).  Being a remake and sequel allows it to take the known ‘rules’ of the prior material, build off that concept and move it towards what is known as flipping the script.  Within the first act, it sets up that the game Jumanji has magical powers, and can change shape.  Once this general setup is made, we are quickly introduced to the new concept with our main cast.  From here, the film takes predictable steps to move the teenage cast into the video game, which setups the ‘fish out of water’ scenario.  Once trapped in the game, the film shifts from the generic setup to an alluring journey.  This journey builds into a satire that represents every aspect of a typical video game.  Pitting realism against gaming tropes allows for the action/adventure setting to ironically create an enriching world that envelopes strong character development.  You become attached to the four characters, wanting them to succeed in this unknown environment.  As the journey moves along a traditional plotline of the heroes having to stop the villain from ‘taking over the world’; it does a good job infusing the meta-centric awareness of video game tropes with outlandish situations.  This creates a lot of circumstances that catch you off guard in a fun filled way.  By focusing most of the time on the relationship of the four characters, it allows for the ‘fish out of water’ method to supersede any unexplained situations or plot holes.  What you have are interactions that play out strongly through the video game clichés and amusing banter.  As you move through the second act using the ‘point A to B’ concept, you are enraptured by the characters as they succeed at each challenging level.  As you move through the colorful set pieces, intriguing confrontation and character moments, you ignore the predictability and enjoy the ride.  Once we get to the final act, the adventure takes a hold of the story.  With everything at stake, you see the characters use their full potential to ‘beat the game’.  With a mixing of comedic and dramatic moments, the climax takes on the convenient ‘wrap up’ techniques and pushes it with revelations that make each character have a sense of fulfillment.  Once the epilogue rolls, you are truly satisfied with what has unfolded in this reboot/sequel.

The visuals are built through exotic locales with thematic appeal.  With on set locations, it brings to life the actual jungle from the video game.  This breathe real life into an out of this world premise, showing how the imaginary can be believable.  It makes you want to visit the game and succeed at winning it all.  The score has a presence in the film, but doesn’t really help or hinder the experience.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a fun adventure that knows exactly what it is.  By not straying off the line and being too serious or goofy, it finds that perfect medium where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the experience.  If you’re a fan of the actors/actresses or have that nostalgic feeling, this is one for you.  It is worth seeing at the theaters, for adults and kids alike.

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