In a brand new Jumanji adventure, four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game’s jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji – you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves – or they’ll be stuck in the game forever, to be played by others without break. (source)
I saw Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017, dir. Jake Kasdan) at the cinema on a complete whim. I’d never intended to see it; my husband and I initially wanted to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), but the showing for that one had bad seats and we decided we might want to see something a little more light-hearted anyway. As it turns out, this was a moment of serendipity. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a solid standalone sequel to the original Jumanji (1995) – a film I remember seeing in the cinema at a young age, and I remember being completely terrified and entranced by it.
The good news is, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a bit of a delight. It’s a fun, simple narrative (kids get lost in video game, kids need to get out of video game) with likeable heroes and a cartoonishly devilish antagonist who you might encounter in a video game. It contains some nice messages about body image, gender, and ‘being yourself’. Although all of the actors are a lot of fun to watch, the absolute stand out is Jack Black. He so perfectly portrays the essence of being a teenage girl on the inside and a grown man on the outside, without being overtly stereotypical and ridiculous about it. The one weak link possibly lies in Kevin Hart, who is just Kevin Hart-ing all over the place as opposed to embodying an actual teenage boy. Even so, the funny moments provoke laughs, and there are some more meaningful and genuine moments as well.
So, there we go. Short and sweet: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a treat. It’s a great update on a classic film, and whilst I was initially hesitant slash skeptical about Jumanji being updated into a video game, the manner in which this was done seemed believable and real. It doesn’t rely on nostalgia value, although there is a nice nod to the original, and stands up as a good film in its own right. Watching this at the cinema was a really good time.
Is it worth paying for a ticket?: Yes!
Watch the trailer here.