We have reached the pinnacle age of Hollywood, and by that I mean we have literally run out of ideas. Or so it seems anyways. Everything is about churning out the biggest blockbuster for box office profits, or quickly rushing a sequel within the next year or two. In the coming ages, the 2010s shall be known as the blockbuster reboot era. That was many peoples fears when the Jumanji reboot was announced a couple years ago. While not a full 100% reboot, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a standalone sequel to the beloved 90s children film. It’s a fun watch and a good time if you don’t look too closely.
When four teenagers find an archaic video game system, they boot it up only to be sucked into the video game’s world. In order to return to the world, they must survive and beat the game as their four in-game avatars.
Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle is as cookie cutter action movie as it gets. From the director of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Sex Tape, Jake Kasdan delivers a fun movie. The plot starts with a thin opening twenty minutes to get to know the kids, and then we dive straight into the action. The kids are transported into the game, and we are in the game until almost the very end. The kids discover their avatars, which are the complete opposite of their real world selves. The skinny nerd takes on the body of Dr. Bravestone, played by The Rock. The 6’4″ football star becomes the zoologist, played by Kevin Hart at 5 foot 4. The social recluse girl takes on Karen Gillan as a Tomb Raider rip off. The pretty preppy blonde inhabits the body of Jack Black, a middle aged cartography expert. Their objective is to return a spiritual gem to Jaguar mountain and break the curse, all while running from the villain.
Based off that plot alone, this game leans on the cheesy retro games from the 90s. The action sequences are over the top ridiculous. At one point in the movie, the crew flies a chopper through a valley sideways while they are being chased by a stampede of white rhinos. There are even a number of dance choreographed fight sequences. Dwayne Johnson is the charismatic hero delivering awful one liners with smoldering intensity. If this were literally the movie with no relation to Jumanji, it would be a perfectly fine B-grade action movie.
Here’s a friendly reminder that this is a standalone sequel to the original Jumanji. Aside from them addressing some of the game mechanics, it is easy to overlook the universe this movie is supposed to be in. There are no continually references to the nature of the curse of the game like in the original. Since this takes place in a virtual world as opposed to the real one, there is no looming sense of chaos like the original. There’s a little easter egg calling back to Alan Parish, Robin William’s character from the classic. Aside from that, there is no reference to the original at all. It’s almost like someone wrote a fun video game movie, and the studio tacked it onto the Jumanji property to sell tickets.
While this is a fun movie, it’s literally just a guilty pleasure, popcorn movie. It has many faults. Anything outside of the video game is uninteresting, and rife with bad acting and dialogue. The villain and all the other NPCs in the game have almost no development aside from being programmed to run the linear path of the game. If you’re looking for a movie with great action and hilarious scenes between The Rock and Kevin Hart, this is the film for you. Plus, Jack Black acting like a teenage girl and spouting off “yas queen” may be one of my favorite movie moments of the year.
This is not the best movie of the year. If I were to ever think I wanted a Jumanji sequel, I would not have pictured anything like this movie. However, it’s still a really fun movie. The cast is perfect for this goofy thriller. The action sequences are entertaining enough, just bare through the bad parts of the movie for the fun. If you need a break from the award worth movies coming out this winter or your 5th viewing of The Last Jedi, then this movie will definitely suffice.
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