You can’t blame anyone for believing that Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was going to be just another reboot/sequel to a film that came out ages ago. It’s something that we’re used to seeing at this point in time. Because of this now being normal, I didn’t think I would be watching a movie that would offer anything different outside of an updated version of the original, but I was actually wrong. Instead of an altered version of 1995’s Jumanji (starring the late Robin Williams), we get a feature that stands on its own in far more ways than you would think.
Four teenagers with typical teenage issues get put in detention and appear to be about to spend their day being stuck doing some boring errands as punishment. That all changes when they discover an old video game system featuring a digital version of Jumanji. While hoping to kill some time, the group of four decide to play, but instead become a part of the game after they’re sucked into it and take over the bodies of their avatars. Now, they not only have to find a way out, they realize that they only have a limited of time to band together and do so before they are lost forever.
You know there is going to be comedy, but you just don’t know how much of it will actually be any good. As it turns out, the comedy is one of the reasons why I took so well to Welcome to the Jungle. There are multiple instances where movies are supposed to be funny but miss the mark these days. Just this year, we’ve had a couple of whiffs when certain big time features relied on comedy a great deal. As they attempt to merge genres together in Hollywood, this should be expected as a continued practice, but based on what we’ve had so far, the transition doesn’t appear to be going as smoothly as many would want.
In Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle it actually does work more often than not. One reason for that is due to there actually being comedy that fits the scenarios that we are presented with. And seeing as how the awkward situations the players are placed in provide even more opportunities for timely jokes and precarious circumstances, it all feels natural. As the game of Hollywood entertainment changes, it’s important that creators actually realize how important this is.
When looking at how well the comedy fits into the movie, I have to point out how well it blends in with the story and the characters that drive it. From the beginning, we get a pretty clear and balanced story that proves itself to be legitimate in terms of its existence throughout the film. As we find out over the course of Welcome to the Jungle, every feature that we see on the screen weaves together and is consistently present in a way that doesn’t allow viewers to lose interest. And to be honest, this isn’t the kind of movie that you would expect to do this.
They put so much effort into this that we get something that makes sure to effectively tie in the proper elements that are seen in video games that are based on these types of adventures. This part isn’t perfect, but almost all of it is accurate. The only part that isn’t accurate is ignored to make some of the dramatic parts of this work as well as it needs to when the time comes. Outside of this one issue, just about everything else that I can remember is right where it needs to be.
On the surface, it’s a silly concept that appears to be an attempt to reboot a movie that came out over twenty years ago. Based on that, it’s reasonable for people not to take it too seriously. I could see the people behind this having that same mentality when developing it, but they actually wanted to make a good feature film even though they probably didn’t have to in the minds of many who just want to have a few laughs and a fun time.
As far as the characters are concerned, they all have unique arcs that allow each of them to stand out. Under ordinary circumstances, some characters are pushed to the side in order to focus on some of the bigger named actors that are starring. Here, that doesn’t happen as each person with what looks to be a relevant role turns out to actually have a relevant role. For myself, I can appreciate the balance as it allows for viewers to focus on things that help carry a film that may be a little longer than expected.
In Welcome to the Jungle, every one of these kids has an individual arc. And with each arc, each teenager is used to teach some kind of lesson to younger members of the audience. This is something that I’m sure caring parents will appreciate, but this is also the kind of direction that properly adds value to the film in narrative terms. And while they are stuck in the game throughout most of the film’s run time, all of what the characters have to deal with is connected to the personal lives of they have outside of the video game that they find themselves trapped in.
I’m happy to have recently been able to see a movie with a coherent story and multiple character arcs that match up well. I’m just surprised that it was Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Much of what we get today from Hollywood hopes to do the same and inspire as well, but they rarely have the genuine ability to do so. Unlike those pictures, this has something to say and makes sure that what’s being spoken of is relevant to all sorts of people regardless of who they actually are. I don’t know how well this movie will do financially, but it deserves to shine as it’s entertaining, unexpectedly fresh, and unpredictably kind of deep.
Director: Jake Kasdan
Film Length: 111 minutes
Release Date: December 20, 2017
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
- Score - 7/107/10