The initial premise felt pretty different from the first Jumanji movie. Instead of things coming out of the game, the players go into the game? Everything is flipped! Of course, this was also the case with the Jumanji cartoon, which I watched and enjoyed. This film is a update on the film. The board game is now a video game, though one that still uses cartridges.
The movie is fun. I laughed a lot through it, and it had over the top jungle rampages. Despite the change in setting. It still feels like Jumanji, though a nicer one. The game, while still kind of a jerk, doesn’t seem to be as mean as in the original movie. The movie did feel like it lacked surprise. I was waiting for some kind of twist or something, but nope, none ever came. But it was solid all around.
The characters are four teenagers, all with their problems that they overcome while going through the game. There is the coward learning to be brave. The jock learning to do things through more than just muscle. The self-absorbed girl learning to care for others. And the shy girl becoming more confident. Not hugely imaginative, but it works well in the film.
They get sucked into the game and become their avatars, which is hilarious. Now we have Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan acting like jerkish and insecure teenagers. Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black and Karen Gillan does really well in their roles. Especially Jack Black, who is playing the self-absorbed girl. Kevin Hart feels sort of like he does in every other role, which would be fine, but the teenager that turns into him did not act like that at all in the real world.
The main human villain of the movie felt pretty lackluster, though. I’ll go into it more in the spoiler section, but he really feels like a non-factor throughout. Probably because he’s a preprogrammed NPC.
The movie is fun and works really well. It still captures the feel of Jumanji, a jungle game that is trying to mess with the players and (maybe?) make them better people. I enjoyed the original more, but this one is great, too.
Some spoiler thoughts.
There is a fifth member of the team, something that is easy to pick up on in the film. Still, he’s a spoiler. I enjoyed him, too, but I wanted more of his life before he became trapped in Jumanji, like how we saw a lot of Alan in the first film. I know that would cause problems with pacing, because this time, the game can’t even start until they’re inside, which would leave a lot of time with no Jumanji at all. Still, we don’t know if the fifth member had any problems he needed to grow from or anything. He’s just there.
And onto the villain. He is pretty non-important despite having magical powers to control animals and a pretty neat look. The problem is, like everything else in the game, he’s only an NPC. He doesn’t have any personal connection to the main characters or that many cool scenes. He’s just there to move the plot along.
From the original movie, Van Pelt felt personal for Alan, was threatening to all the players and generally interesting. The villain here, is not and is the weakest part of the movie. The interaction between the main characters is really where this film is at, and that is done well.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, is a surprising and fun sequel to a movie I liked a lot.