I don’t know about you, but when I grew up Jumanji was one of those video tapes my brothers and I loved. Monkeys, crazy quicksand, and the beautiful Robin Williams. It’s hard to make a film that could be its equal, and the recent Jumanji film hasn’t been the first to try.
Although under a different title, Zathura from 2005 was ambitious enough to take the terrifying jungle game and twist it with space. But the film didn’t come close to making the same splash as the ’95 Jumanji. So, the question is, has The Rock found that special something to succeed where Zathura failed?
2017 Jumanji begins with four teens, Spencer, Fridge, Bethany, and Martha, being given detention. While completing the monotonous task of removing magazine staples for recycling, the four find a strange gaming console that soon sucks them into the wild world of Jumanji!
The story is easy to follow and allows for some twists on old clichés. However, unlike Zathura, this Jumanji is a sequel to the Robin Williams film. The writers have done extremely well to tie the films together with the classic board game and threatening drums, and the board game itself is revealed to be a very interesting object. After discussions with like-minded nerds, we agreed it could almost be a Pandora’s Box.
The cast work remarkably well together, and I have never enjoyed a performance from Jack Black more. He plays the avatar of the popular school girl, Bethany, and he is the prime source of humour throughout the film.
Karen Gillan’s character Martha, aka Ruby Roundhouse, is given a lot of ridiculously cool fighting scenes, surpassed only by The Rock. Unfortunately, there is one scene I was initially disappointed with when she was made to distract some guards. However, this just becomes the foundation for a brilliant reveal and a beautiful ‘Yes Queen!’ from Jack Black.
The dynamic between Kevin Hart and The Rock was fantastic in this film, and even better than their work from Central Intelligence. They were almost in a Freaky Friday situation, and seeing Kevin Hart trying to beat up The Rock will always be funny.
Unfortunately, the villain Van Pelt fell dramatically short of the main cast’s high standard. He was nothing beyond a villain in black with the ability to control typically ‘evil’ creatures. He pales in comparison to the Van Pelt hunter from the ’95 Jumanji and creates the biggest disappointment from the film.
A lot of computer imagery was used for this film, and although creating vastly different athletics to the original, this look wasn’t out of place. It certainly helped separate the two films so that although the 2017 Jumanji is a sequel, it could easily be a film by itself.
And that’s what I enjoyed most about this film. It paid homage to the original film while also giving itself creative license to be something different. It certainly dropped the more terrifying elements from the original, and that allowed this film to be really good entertainment for the whole family.
Review by Brittany Howarth aka BrittGirl