The original Jumanji film came out over 20 years ago, starring Robin Williams and becoming a hugely popular film with an entire generation. This sequel has gone from a “why are they doing this” to “I actually think it might be good” over the last year. With the duo of the Rock and Kevin Hart involved and adding Jack Black into the mix, I was hoping they could do the original film justice and bring something new as well.
Jumanji’s biggest strength is the chemistry between the four main characters. The three mentioned above are joined by Karen Gillan of Dr.Who and Guardians of the Galaxy fame. They all bounce off each other really well and their willingness to make fun of themselves is what really makes Jumanji work. The majority of the jokes hit for me, and the self depricating humour mixed in with poking fun at video game conventions made me laugh out loud quite a few times throughout.
The video game element brought into this sequel really is a great device that helps to bring Jumanji into the modern day. As a keen gamer, recognising a lot of the tropes of video games added something else to the experience I wasn’t expecting. The bar for video game movies wasn’t very high, but this is probably the best live action video game movie we’ve seen so far.
If the heroes are the biggest strength, the villain is the biggest weakness. The bad guy is forgettable, and often I forgot he existed until he popped up again on screen. His scenes seem like they’re from a different movie at times, and it didn’t work for me. The goons/ henchmen were more entertaining purely because they acted like video game henchmen do (pretty dumb), and seeing how that was executed on screen is a laugh for gamers.
The villains plan and therefore the actual task our heroes have set out to do is basic, and full of plot holes. Theres a rock that gives the villain powers when he touches it, but then everyone else who touches it doesn’t get these powers. Except for one moment when someone does. So that’s not been thought through enough for me, and it did have me scratching my head a bit as to what was going on.
The action in Jumanji is silly, over the top and in the world of the video game that’s been set up, it all makes perfect sense. There is some questionable special effects at times, but the action is engaging enough, if not spectacular. The action is at it best when used for comedic effects, and I think that’s a good parallel for the film as a whole.
Whether it’s Jack Black acting like a teenage girl, or Dwayne Johnson being a nerdy guy, Jumanji excels when it’s focused on making you laugh. The plot is nothing remarkable, serving purely as a vehicle to carry us to the next joke. Jumanji surprised me how much fun I had watching it, I just hope it makes some money for us to return to Jumanji again with these characters, but then releasing the film the week after Star Wars might put a dent in those hopes. Jumanji hits theatres December 20th in the UK.
Good for: fans of any of the main cast, you get a good serving of them all. Jack black arguably steals the show. Jumanji fans will enjoy how this pays tribute to the original as well.
Bad for: Thin plot and weak villain are a let down. Some jokes may be a little too dirty for younger kids, even if they were the ones that made me laugh the most.
7/10 – Good fun, Great chemistry carries the film.