Review: There’s a lot of joy in the superfluous sequel/spin-off of Robin Williams’ 1995 boardgame comedy, Jumanji. The legendary boardgame is no longer; it’s morphed into a 1980s’ videogame console. The predecessor’s heart, the talk about responsibility, is also stripped off—substituted with non-stop merriment and teen-angst. The result is a feel-good blockbuster packed with tons of fun and joyride carrying the best of the holiday vibes.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle starts off by absurdly channeling The Breakfast Club before sucking out the four protagonists into the heart of the artificial jungle in a whole new action RPG. We have the nerd (Alex Wolff), the jock (Ser’Darius Blain), the recluse (Morgan Turner) and Molly Ringwald of Instagram era (Madison Iseman) playing the game. Inside the game, the teens also morphs into the avatar they’re choosing. The nerd turns into the all-muscle Dwayne Johnson with smoldering eyes; the jock shrinks into the cake-intolerant Kevin Hart, the sidekick; the recluse turns into the smoky hot Lara Croft-esque Karen Gillan; and the pretty girl turns into… Jack Black. And, they are all trapped inside the game which won’t let them go unless they finish it.
Story-wise, Welcome to the Jungle gives zero contribution to the canon. Even, this sequel’s nod to the original film (wrapped in a little twist presented by Nick Jonas in a secret role) lends the prequel an unfortunate plot-hole. Director Jake Kasdan with four writers only borrow the idea and the spirit, and then throws it into a lighter, a more absurd, and a more action-packed rendition, which results in a predictable summer blockbuster ride (despite the December release).
Action sequences and set-pieces restricted inside the game with no real-world impact aren’t as inventive as the predecessor; however, those sequences juxtapose effectively with the film’s comedy time. Kevin Hart’s self-aware and absurd banters often hit the right spot; while Jack Black’s sassy portrayal of a teenage queen trapped inside a middle-aged professor is on top of the pyramid. The jokes, which often knocks on R-rated door, mostly work—even the toilet jokes.
With predictable characters, predictable arc and predictable conclusion, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle isn’t as memorable as the predecessor; but, it’s definitely a warm holiday joyride. It’s lighter and more carefree, even compared to Jumanji and Zathura.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
Adventure, Action, Comedy Directed by: Jake Kasdan Written by: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner Starred by: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Alex Wolff, Nick Jonas Runtime: 119 mins Rated PG-13