Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Review

Jumanji, a movie featuring Robin Williams about a board game that affects the real world, was released in 1995. However, the sequel was released this year on December 20th. This movie has none of the original cast and changes Jumanji from a board game into a video game. So, does this 2017 sequel keep the original‘s heart that made it so popular with so many people, or is it just a cash grab for nostalgic adults?

Story

Jumanji, the board game, has lost its allure and can’t trick anyone into playing the game. Even just one year later, board games have become boring, as video games are the coolest new thing. So, to keep itself up with the times, Jumanji transformed from a board game into a video game. We see Jumanji the video game take its first victim, and then we cut to 2016.

From here we meet our four main characters, the classic high school archetypes. There’s Spencer, the smart but nerdy kid who does the jock’s homework. The aforementioned jock is Fridge, who is on the football team, but is failing and is about to get kicked off the team. There’s also Bethany, the high school girl who only cares about her looks, who she’s dating, and her phone. And our final character is the self conscious lonely girl who’s more obsessed with her grades then having a social life. After they all end up getting detention, it turns into the Breakfast Club. That is until they find Jumanji and boot it up. From there they choose their characters and get sucked into the game.

Presentation

The biggest difference between this movie and the original Jumanji isn’t the time, but the setting. The original had Jumanji wreaking havoc on the real world, Jumanji in this game pulls the kids into the game, just like what happened to Robin Williams in the original. This allows us to see what it’s like inside Jumanji, even if it is slightly different from its former board game self. We even meet up with a character from the original, that being Van Pelt. He is once again the villian, but has gotten a makeover to fit this new world.

Van Pelt in Jumanji (left) vs Van Pelt in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (right)

The world inside of Jumanji is also really interesting, mixing the natural world along with ancient civilizations, but still having machine guns and motorcycles and people with mechanical additions to their bodies. It creates a unique feeling that I would love to see in a real Jumanji video game. I mean, there was a board game for the original, they should make a video game for the sequel. My one gripe with the video game setup is that they progress through the game as a level system, even though it’s more akin to open world games like Breath of the Wild or Skyrim. They also tackles the “levels” just like missions, but this is just a nitpick to the movie, as it’s something not many people would either notice or care about. One of my favorite small things is a reference to the late Robin Williams’ character from the original. When Alan Parrish was sucked into the game for 16 years, he had made a home, which another character lives out of as marked by a carving that says “Alan Parrish was here”

Final Thoughts

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is fun movie, albeit not very unique. It’s tropes we’ve seen hundreds of times in other movies, but Jumanji tries something new by putting these tropes in bodies that are the polar opposite of them. The pretty girl becomes an overweight man, the self conscious girl is put into the body of a beautiful woman, the nerd is in a jock’s body, and the jock is small and skinny. These tropes being forced to act as their polar opposite leads to some interesting scenes, and the same style of growth all these high school movies end up having. However the movie also gets conflicted on whether it wants to be a more serious, yet still funny movie that teaches good morals like the original, or the kind of unoriginal comedy movie that leaves you feeling more empty than when you walked in, both in your mind and your wallet. The writing is great, and even when the characters are in the game, they act as if they were themselves outside, which I’m sure Jack Black had the most fun with, making fun of stereotypical teenage girls. Overall, it’s a fun movie, but not as good as the original.

6/10

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