Posted Dec 23 2017

Jumanji Welcome To The Jungle - This Game Playing Movie Doesn't Really Manage To Rock

Dir: Jake Kasdan

Starring The Rock, The Hart, The Black, The Gillan, The Jonas Brother

The original Jumanji is a much loved film, even if it was never a terribly good one. Now, with twenty odd years having passed in between, the fx have certainly improved, but this reboot remains pretty much on par – fun action sequences, linked by torpors of dull exposition and life lessons to be learned.

And no Robin Williams. Although, one of the few graces of Kasdan’s reboot is its replacement cast – and yes, it does take four of ’em to fill Mr Williams’ shoes. Thus we have four Breakfast Club-esque detention high schoolers, who happen upon the titular game – now upgraded from board to video – who wind up trapped in the adventure in the avatar forms of Dwayne the Rock, Kevin the Annoying, Jack the Black and Karen the One From Doctor Who. And naturally said teens are now cast against type – nerdy, wimpy teen is now the almighty Rock, the gorgeous cheerleader is now trapped in the body of Jack Black, and so on. This is by far the film’s strongest idea and it pays some dividends over the next two hours. Just not enough.

The cast are all personable, the game playing is adhered to (each character has three lives to lose) and some of the action set pieces are effectively realised. But in Kasdan’s hands the film is remarkably sluggish, with huge swathes of the film feeling like it has just been brought to a complete crashing halt – whether to explain the plot, talk about what they have to do next, talk about what they just did, or – worse still – what these youngsters are learning from this somewhat unusual life experience, (they have to work together…er…that’s about it!). As often as it manages to engage, it manages to disengage, which becomes more frustrating as the film progresses.

The new Jumanji has a solid cast and it’s not without some charm. But it ultimately doesn’t add up to much. Not a million miles away from the original.


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