Film Review: Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle
As a game, Jumanji is far from boring, but it doesn’t have repeat value, because once you’ve played it, you never want to go through the experience again. This interactive, immersive, dangerous game takes you deep into a jungle where participants are given three lives with which they have to overcome all kinds of obstacles.
The film, directed by Jake Kasden, opens in 1996 and then cuts to a present-day high school where four teenagers in a detention room find this dusty game. Curiosity and boredom get the better of Spencer, Fridge, Bethany and Martha, who choose available avatars and begin playing the game, totally unprepared for what lies ahead. The foursome must treat their situation as a series of challenges and pass every level to make it back home safe and sound. But the villainous Ven Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) will ensure their success is hard-won.
The writers and director create a palatable balance between tension and adventure, humour and entertainment. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan play the older, in-game avatars of Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman and Morgan Turner. Black and Hart bring the laughs, while Johnson and Gillan are perfectly in sync with the body-swap. Black in particular is a riot as the selfie-loving blonde recast in the shape of a grisly overweight cartographer. Johnson too seems to be enjoying playing the nerd in the avatar of a smouldering, intense, fearless adventurer.
Those who have seen the 1995 Jumanji (starring Robin Williams) should be pleased with references to Alan Parrish. This sequel has enough razzle-dazzle and laughs to make for a fun family entertainer.
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