When news of a sequel to the 1995 classic ‘Jumanji’ was announced it’s safe to say that I was less than impressed. As is the same for many, the original film has always been a favourite of mine and it was one of the first films to introduce me to the acting legend Robin Williams. If you’d asked me when the sequel bomb was dropped I would have told you I’d rather this film be left alone but hey, it’s 2017 and by this stage no classic film is safe from Hollywood.
Anyway, this time around the film’s premise is the opposite of the original movie. Instead of creatures coming out of the game and into the real world our protagonists, a bunch of high school kids who all find themselves in detention, are transported into the world of Jumanji, which was been re-imagined as a video game rather than the original format of a board game. As a direction for this sequel I actually kind of dug this decision and as the film progresses it continues to prove it’s merits.
One of the many highlights to this sequel was the big named cast who play the video game characters inhabiting Jumanji. Dwayne Johnson plays Dr. Smoulder Bravestone in one of his best performances to date. I haven’t always been a fan of Johnson’s comedic efforts in the past but his role here allowed for a great blend of the tough guy roles he’s previously nailed with a heap of comedy and he does excellently with this. Karen Gillan kicks ass as commando Ruby Roundhouse further cementing her credentials as an action star but also playing a massive role in the funniest sequence in the film. Jack Black is the other half responsible for this sequence as he plays Professor Shelly Oberon in one of his more memorable film roles to date. Whilst Kevin Hart plays a familiar type of character in the shape of Franklin ‘Moose’ Finbar, the butt of most of the jokes, he does so as enthusiastically as ever and the film is all the better for having him in it. What makes these performances even more impressive though is the fact that this cast have to play these video game characters but as the younger cast who have found themselves controlling these avatars. It’s a really amusing twist on things and paves the way for a lot of comedy thanks to these layered performances.
The narrative is far more simple, complete the game to escape the world of Jumanji. The video game set up is great fun as it’s really well thought out. It has plenty of moments which take full advantage of this premise and in the process is actually quite clever. The film is incredibly effective as an action movie thanks to the nature of the video game setting, when the action gets over the top it’s ok as our characters are in a game, anything is possible! On that note, who’d have thought it but could ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ be the best video game movie we’ve seen? That’s a debate for another day but the action box is well and truly ticked here. Thanks to the premise and performances of the cast so is the comedy resulting in one of the most fun blockbusters of recent years. Despite being a sequel the film actually feels remarkably original, it in no way clings to the first film instead creating something fresh with just a few throwbacks to the 1995 film, striking the perfect balance of new and old.
So if you haven’t guessed already, I’m a fan. The film is by no means free from flaws entirely though. Bobby Cannavale’s villain was fine but could have been developed more, similarly fine was the CGI which might have benefitted from closer attention to detail and there are predictable character cliches and arcs included ‐ but thankfully they are never dwelt on too much. There’s no time to think about these issues though as what is unfolding on screen is such a riot. It’s like a Breakfast Club remake on acid plus maybe the biggest and best surprise of the year!
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating ‐ 8.5/10
Question: What has been your favourite sequel from 2017?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
Thanks for reading this review and please let us know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop us a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.