Following the overwhelming success of the last film, the new Jumanji crew find themselves back inside the dangerous video game, but surely having beaten it once, the second time should be a doddle?………….
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Kevin Hart & Danny DeVito
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When Jumanji : Welcome To The Jungle, was announced, it was met with much derision from fans. Was this really necessary? Will it ruin the fond memories of the original starring Robin Williams? Jumanji, unlike Dwayne Johnson’s previous attempt to revive some 90s nostalgia, Baywatch, Jumanji :Welcome To The Jungle is an exuberant joy ride from start till end!
The story here has been shifted to the current millennial age, and in order to fit this time, the Jumanji board game has become a retro video game, basically evolving to survive in a time when board games are of little interest! Our protagonists, whom are all the usual high school stereotypes, end up digging out the video game while being thrown into detention together. The twist here though, is unlike the original, where the game came to them, here, they get sucked into the game!
To make things even more interesting, our students end up in the bodies of the avatars they selected for the game. Spencer (Alex Wolff), the nerdy gamer is now in the body of Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Johnson), a 6″5, 250lb hero, with no real weaknesses. Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), the school jock, is the diminutive Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Hart), who is essentially Bravestone’s assistant. Bethany (Madison Iseman), the selfie obsessed cheerleader, ends up as she says ‘a middle aged fat man’ in Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon (Black). Martha, our shy, introverted teen, is now the confident & dangerous Ruby Roundhouse (Gillan).
The story is simple, get the Jaguar’s Eye, a magical gem, back to its resting place, to save the jungle, though it’s not as east as it may seem. Each of them are limited to 3 lives, and not only is the jungle trying to kill them, but the villainous Van Pelt (Cannavale) is also in a deadly pursuit of the gem.
The body swapping angle is really what makes this film shine. With most of our all star cast playing roles that they don’t play. The Rock, is someone who is the opposite of the charismatic mountain of muscle that he is. Jack Black is having a blast playing the bratty teen diva, and Gillan is still an insecure teenage, even though in the game she is a beautiful lady who can also kill you swiftly with her deadly martial arts skills! It’s really only Kevin Hart doing his usual routine, but even then, his interactions with Johnson is golden. Finbar, who in reality, is the athletic, tall, confident jock, has to come to terms that in the game, he really is none of that, and it’s in fact Spencer, who he looks down upon, who is the real hero. All four of the cast work great, and really excels the movie to something more memorable.
The video game plot also adds plenty of laughs for all the gamers out there. From NPCs, cut scenes, and character strength & weaknesses, there are various little details that give the film a charming gloss. This really makes the film stand out from the original, so they really cannot be compared directly.
The only thing that really does bring the movie down, is the laughably poor villain. Van Pelt really wasn’t needed, and could have been removed from the story altogether. All it did was extend the run time, and remove the excitement from the film whenever it cut back to whatever he was up to. The story line would have worked perfectly well if it was a simple task of going from A to B, with the jungle trying to defeat you. The villain was just a distraction, and never really proved a threat. Villain aside, the film doesn’t really make the most out of the 3 lives gimmick, at no point, do you ever really fear for one of the main characters biting the dust, considering the menacing environment they are in.
Jumanji : Welcome To The Jungle is amusing holiday film, with a wonderful cast, humour, and surprisingly intense action scenes, it really is a blast. Only downside to it really is the mediocre villain, who helps bloat the movie to over two hours. Even with that, the film pretty much stands on par with its 90s counterpart.
2016 has been a tremendous year for Disney. The top 4 highest grossing films of the year all have ties with the studio. Zootropolis & The Jungle Book both sit in the Top 4. Along with Captain America: Civil War & Finding Dory, with both Marvel & Pixar having affiliation with Disney, making it a dominant year for the company. There was still time in the year for one more release; can Moana match the sensational Zootropolis from earlier in the year?
Simply put, yes! What we get is a story that is as refreshing as Mulan, which breaks away from most traditional Disney themes.
The film follows the journey of our title heroine, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the daughter of the island chief, who rules the tribe on a Polynesian tropical paradise. Although she is warned by her father several times to not venture beyond the island reefs, she longs for adventure, eager to see what lies beyond the horizon. Moana is tasked to return a sacred gem, back to its original resting place. In order to fulfil this, she must search for demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson), who stole the gem in the first place and now must aid her to take it back, otherwise without the gem returning, her island will eventually perish.
What makes the movie great is the perseverance of our heroine. Even after she meets the charming Maui, she still wants to prove herself. It would have been easy to let her take the back seat, and let the muscle do all the work! Maui also proves a big hit, with Dwayne Johnson bringing all his enduring charisma to the part. His role in Central Intelligence was abit awkward, but here, his act is perfect, Maui wasn’t bad, he was simply trying to help humans by gifting them the gem, unaware of its consequences, he has no ulterior motive. All he wanted was the adulation from the people he serves. Plus, his humour is on point, and the interactions with Moana are one of the brightest points of the film. Speaking of humour, Moana’s pet rooster, Heihei, provides plenty of laughs, he is the smartest of animals, even the creators have called him the stupidest character in any Disney film!
If Frozen had the theme of Ice & Snow, than the essence here is Water & Ocean. This allows the production team to use some amazing animation, especially with all the water that’s around! Zootropolis may have been incredibly detailed, but this movie is unbelievably beautiful at times. The Ocean itself is a sentient being, and has its occasional moments of banter with the audience! The subject of the film is sailing and exploration, anyone who has played the Zelda video game, The Wind Waker, will have a comforting feeling! We see Moana go from a rookie, to a master navigator, with the help of our Demigod!
With this being a Disney film, means that of course, you’ll have your fair share of song and dance. The film even makes a joke referring to the ‘breaking out in song’ troupe! The main recurring song though, sang by Cravalho, is a rather powerful melody, which will leave you humming it even after you’ve left the cinema!
The film still has a few clichés, we have the usual death of a character, which pushes our heroine to start her quest. The departing character also comes back in spirit, when our protagonist is at her lowest. The song that follows seemed a bit abrupt and ill-fitting of the situation. It would have been like Mufasa going into a song when he returned to talk to Simba! We also have the predictable moment when the two heroes fall out, which happens in most films, so can’t take away too many points for that!
With the Christmas break coming up, I would highly recommend you check this out with friends and family! The film has not received the same level of marketing and hype as previous films here in the UK, which is a tad disappointing. With is blend of gorgeous visuals, engaging story and plentiful humour, it’s one of the best Disney animations to come in the few few decades.