You might think you know the game, but the game knows more than you and now it’s evolved in the long-awaited sequel to classic family film Jumanji, in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. And it’s one incredible ride.
After four teenagers, Spencer (Alex Wolff), Bethany (Madison Iseman), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) and Martha (Morgan Turner), are sent to detention they discover a long-forgotten video game called Jumanji. Suddenly sucked into the game they assume the games four lead avatars; Dr Smoulder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart), Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon (Jack Black), and Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) and must learn to trust each other and work together if they are to finish the game and return to the real world.
While many questioned the need for a sequel, especially with the late passing of Robin Williams, I can firmly say that Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is one very well-crafted film. Director Jake Kasdan does something special with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and uses the new film’s setting of an over-the-top video game to his advantage. This setting and its ‘in-game rules’ make for a fresh approach to the Jumanji franchise and leads to many unexpected surprises.
When talking about Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle one can’t look past its impressive cast and how they work within the film. While major leading Hollywood stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillen lead the film, it’s actually their ‘real-life’ players Spencer, Fridge, Bethany and Martha that control their performances. This leads to some absolutely hilarious comedic moments such as Johnson’s paralyzing fear and aversion to danger on Spencer’s behalf, Hart’s heightened weaknesses which include both speed and strength, even though Fridge is a football player, Jack Black’s valley girl, air-headedness that result from Bethany’s penchant for status updates and selfies and Karen Gillan’s basket case Martha who becomes one hell of butt-kicker with her penchant for dance fighting, although her flirting skills still need a little bit of work. As an audience member, it’s great to see all of these actors play against type and to really dive into their ‘real world’ characters.
If I had to select a favourite character it’d fall between Smoulder Bravestone/Spencer and ‘Mouse’ Finbar/Fridge for me. I loved seeing Dwayne Johnson poking fun at himself and playing off his Jock stereotype as a full-on nerd and Kevin Hart just goes for it with plenty of outlandish humour and his new found zoology knowledge definitely cracks you up.
Trust me when I say that you won’t stop laughing while watching Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The humour is quick and fast here and all of the major stars get their chance to throw their personalities into the film. If there is a standout in terms of comedic performance though then it most definitely has to be Jack Black as Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon/Bethany, a cartographer who takes on the persona of a spoilt, bratty, self-involved social media princess and Black completely owns it! With his hips shaking from side-to-side and his high pitched voice Black is hysterical and his performance as Bethany is sure to leave a smile on your face.
But while Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is filled with laughs and action it’s also a profoundly deep film that analyses themes such as friendship, loyalty and courage. One of its sticking points is that you have to accept courage and do everything you can to actually live your life, cause you’re only going to have one of them. This message is particularly inspiring and as the main characters learn to accept themselves for who they are they find their strength in one another to help finish the game. I wasn’t expecting for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle to be so deep, but I’m glad that it was because the message that it gives its audience is a very reassuring and triumphant one.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a whole lotta fun, and if you’re looking for some big-level blockbuster entertainment this Christmas then I highly recommend you get along and see it. Packed out with laughs, action and some adorable characters, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has everything you want out of blockbuster entertainment…and it sure is wild!
Image: Sony Pictures