Review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

For all of its unashamed snarkiness, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a spritely, energetic romp that surpasses the original on almost all fronts. Flipping and updating the premise works a treat as the big name cast happily lampoon themselves along the way. Good Fun!

Going into this, dear reader, I was a skeptical as you’d expect an avid film buff would be with a sequel to a just okay original some 22 years later. The inclusion of smutty comedy director Jake Kasdan (Sex Tape, Bad Teacher, Walk Hard) adds a level of animated humour to proceedings that was sorely missing from Joe Johnston’s heavy handed 1995 original.

It’s present day Bratford and four teenagers Spencer, Martha, Fridge, and Bethany (Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blaine, and Madison Eisman) act like a modern day Breakfast Club in detention at school. When they start fossicking around in the basement they find an old gaming console and in it a version of the infamous Jumanji game. Once they start the game, the four are absorbed into the world assuming the characters they selected. Spencer – Dwayne Johnson, Martha – Karen Gillan, Fridge – Kevin Hart, and Bethany – Jack Black. Let the adventure begin.

For all of its cynical pop culture references and eschewing of its celebrity cast, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is such an engaging ride. It moves at a cracking pace and, thanks to Kasdan’s broad cheeky comedic hand, the film never gets bogged down in over exposition or melodramatics.  Johnson and Hart cement how well they played off each other in Central Intelligence with the addition of Jack Black flexing his comedic muscle adding to the fun.

The trump card the film plays, with thanks to writers Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg, and Jeff Pinker, is that it puts characters in avatar bodies that are the complete opposite of their personalities. It gives proceedings an edge and unpredictability even when the scenario moves to its expected conclusion.

Gyula Pados (Predators) brings a kinetic prowess to his cinematography, ably framing and executing the action sequences which are overloaded with CGI. The a sense of scale to this jungle, an overbearing density, that accentuates the film.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle fits into the category of this-is-way-better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be and surpasses the original in terms of thrills, laughs and overall entertainment. Wholly engaging and sporting a cast all in top form, it’s a surprising winner for the holidays and jolly good fun!