Four teenagers are sucked into a video game and must beat
the game as the avatars that they chose in order to escape.
When a sequel/reboot to the 1995 cult classic Jumanji was announced, I was hesitant. Jumanji has always been one of my favorite movies and I thought a reboot was not only unnecessary but also a bad idea. The trailer seemed mildly amusing at best and it didn't look like there'd be any real connection to the original. Then, I saw it. I think the best films come from surprise. When you go in with low expectations only to discover the film is not only decent but also enjoyable, I find it heightens the movie-watching experience tenfold. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle did that for me. It's a direct sequel that picks up exactly where the original left off and introduces the magic of the cursed Jumanji game to a new generation using a hilarious script and a killer cast.
When a boy finds the board game washed up on the beach, he ignores it in favor of his video game. The game, sensing a change in trends, transforms itself into a video game in order to adapt to the times. From there, four teens in detention find it and get sucked into the world of Jumanji where they become the avatars they chose. Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan play the avatars and each of them absolutely kills it. They have to each play the kid who's playing the game but wearing their character, making their job multi-layered and impressive. They make this movie a joy to watch, from their perfect chemistry to the awesome way they implement video game lingo and situations to film.
I appreciate the time and effort the filmmakers took to bridge this film with the original. It clearly exists in the same world and even takes place in the same world. The film features a classy nod to Alan Parrish, the lead character portrayed by the late Robin Williams in the original, and reminds us that that film was here first and this one is just building on the legacy it left behind. It's one of the best reboots in recent years and easily one of the best surprises of the year.
Wow. Just wow. Talk about a pleasant surprise this movie turned out to be. Like many 90's kids, including my fellow reviewer, the announcement of a new Jumanji movie felt more like an insult to the lasting legacy that is the original movie. A new movie which seemed to be only made for a quick buck. Count me curious when reviews and audience reaction were painting this as an actual good movie. So, naturally, I saw it. And I've never been more happy to be wrong about a movie. This new Jumanji features a completely game cast and honors the original while finding an inventive way to bring in a new, younger audience.
The story is simple. The board game from the original movie is brought to a young boy's house, where it updates itself into a video game to go with the changing times. Years later, a group of kids stuck in detention end up starting up the game and getting sucked into the game world. The first thing I want to start with, and I got to give the movie credit for this, is the way video games are portrayed in this movie. In a media where they never truly seem to get the video game medium, the new Jumanji nails it. From the lingo, the structure, and even side characters, this feels like the characters are stuck in a legitimate game. Also, the cast kills it in this movie. Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black are all hilarious and seem to be having a lot of fun with the material. In particular, Hart and Black are hilarious; nearly stealing all the thunder from their costars. If there is one true negative to this movie, it's that the villain is not very strong. He generally just pops up to be creepy and thats really about it.
Look, I really didn't want to like this movie. But, I was pleasantly surprised. For once, this isn't a decades long sequel that feels like a mere cash grab. Instead, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle completely honors what came before while giving a new generation of kids something to love. Easily one the best films this year and one of the most surprising.