Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – Does it Rock, or Break Your Hart?

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Runtime: 119mins | Director: Jake Kasdan | Rating: 5 Stars

When I first saw the trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, I won’t lie, I was horrified.

“They’ve made it into a video game?! What the f**k is this?!”

“This film is going to do nothing but bastardise the memory of Robin Williams – how dare they!”

“It doesn’t look remotely funny and it will probably have abysmal CGI – I’m out.”

Despite all my claims above, I still went to see it, and what can I say? When you’re wrong, you’re wrong, and I’ll hold my hands up freely - I loved it.

The film begins with four high school kids getting put into detention together – an athlete, a nerd, a popular hot girl, and an outcast – you know the drill. Whilst in detention, however, they discover the game Jumanji which has transformed from an antiquated board game into a slightly less old looking games console. In an attempt to procrastinate, the four children play the game, pick their respective characters, and inevitably get sucked into the world of Jumanji. Once they wake up inside the game, they discover (to mixed reactions) that they have embodied the characters they selected along with their powers and weaknesses. Before they have time to fully rationalise what has happened, they are recruited on a mission to save Jumanji by defeating Russel Van Pelt. If they succeed, they return home. If they don’t, they are stuck there to die.

Whilst the plot of Jumanji: WTTJ doesn’t reinvent the wheel, I have no problem with this as I never expected it to. This film was created with the sole purpose of making people laugh and have fun. The only problem of going down this avenue is that you actually have to make the audience laugh, or the film has no substance at all, and that is where so many comedies fall. Fortunately, Jumanji WTTJ was laugh out loud funny.

Whilst all the characters were entertaining, for me, Jack Black’s performance stood out. Having to play a high school girl as a near-fifty-year-old man is no small task, but due to his naturally exaggerated acting style and his camp nature he pulls it off perfectly. Whilst ‘dick jokes’ are usually the lowest form of comedy for me, the way they use them to highlight the gender reversal is hilarious. One moment, in particular, had me in stitches when Bethany (Jack Black), resuscitates Alex (Nick Jonas) who then hugs him thankfully. Bethany has a crush on Alex and during the hug gets a bit excited, which due to her new anatomy, is very obvious. When she realises, she has a shocked, yet excited look on her face and shouts, “these things are crazy!” – Yes. Yes, they are.

*SPOILERS FROM HERE ON IN, BE WARNED*

Something else I really appreciated was that the film directly referenced the original. When I saw it, I wasn’t aware that Jumanji: WTTJ was a direct sequel. For me, the marketing of the film didn’t indicate this at all – it simply felt like a reboot which I felt was totally unnecessary. During the film though when I saw the reference to Alan Parish (the character that Robin Williams played in the original) this made me very happy. For me, this proved that whilst they had decided to completely change the tone of the film and cater it to a more modern audience, they hadn’t forgotten their roots, and more importantly, respected the memory of Williams and what he brought to the original film.

The only two criticism’s I have of Jumanji: WTTJ is that the villain was incredibly weak and almost non-existent – he was very much an afterthought throughout. As well as this, in a couple of places, the CGI was dodgy – one somersault in particular by Karen Gillian’s character was shocking. You can’t win them all though, and despite these flaws, the film makes up for them with surprisingly good acting (especially from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), and laugh out loud comedy, primarily supplied by Jack Black and Kevin Hart. Karen Gillan’s ‘flirting’ also had me in stitches.


If like me, you weren’t sure of seeing this film, I really recommend going to see it – you will be pleasantly surprised. Don’t expect any grand, elaborate plots or any Oscar winning performances, but be prepared to have fun. A lot of it. After all, that’s what films should be about, right? Having fun! 

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