Directed by Jake Kasdan
Starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Rhys Darby, and Bobby Cannavale
Film Review by Niall Maggs
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is an (apparent) sequel to the 1995 classic Jumanji starring Robin Williams, surrounding a mysterious board game. The 2017 film has the same premise, except this time it’s not a board game, but a video game from the 90’s.
Four students at a school receive detentions for different reasons, and end up together having to staple booklets. Spencer (Alex Wolf) discovers an old video game called ‘Jumanji’, the students set up the game and play it, but end up being sucked in, turning them into the form of the characters they chose. Spencer’s character takes the form of Dwayne Johnson. The other characters actors’ consist of Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black. From here onwards, there is non stop fun, action, great humour, and a glorious soundtrack!
The premise here really works well. The plot takes unexpected twists and turns that keeps the audience on their toes. But what makes it thrive, is the great chemistry between the actors, in particular Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart; this type of chemistry can’t be scripted. The one liners exchanged between both are hilarious and they work really well together. We’ll definitely be seeing these two together in more movies in the future. It’s not just these two that have great chemistry, Karen Gillan and Jack Black also really fit in with Johnson and Hart. All of them each have their own style and bring something different to the crew, Whether it’s Johnson’s charisma, Hart’s comedy, there is something for everybody to enjoy in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Karen Gillan is hilarious and a vital asset to the rest of the team. All of her scenes are memorable, whether she’s dancing to Big Mountain’s Baby, I Love Your Way while beating soldiers up, or taking flirting advice from Jack Black, she’s constantly the star among the popular likes of Dwayne Johnson, which demonstrates her strength as an actor if she can outdo The Rock! Her performance is brilliant, and the video game character is a complete opposite to the real life Martha, played by Morgan Turner. In real life she’s shy, anxious and unpopular. However in the game she’s a complete badass! The way the filmmakers handled each character is really great. The tough Spencer is a nerdy guy in real life. Completely different to Fridge (Kevin Hart) who is a strong, tough, popular football player, but in the game, he’s quite cowardly, small and weak. This aspect I really liked.
Henry Jackman’s score is used really effectively. Every scene benefited with the heart pounding music. In particular, there is a lot of sequences where the tension and suspense is just incredible. The score also resembles the whole jungle premise, making the scenes feel real and not just seem like a movie set. The sound still stayed a reasonable volume and you can still hear the dialogue. In a lot of films, the booming sound is unpleasant, but in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle the music is a great addition to the already-intense scenes.
The action was almost non stop. You’re on the edge of your seat constantly and there is a great supply of thrills. The action direction was also very good. The lack of shaky-cam worked well, and even when it was used, the scene wasn’t ever jarring or jerking. The sequences stayed enjoyable and you CAN actually see what’s going on. These types of scenes were also shot brilliantly and the cinematography was simple but effective.
There were some instances where a couple of scenes went on for too long however, and the runtime could’ve been shortened by about fifteen minutes. The pace was also sometimes clunky and jumpy. It rushes the ending but spends too long on a couple of scenes in the second act. However, the majority of the film stays consistent and smooth.
There is also a lack of character development, and there are no real arcs to follow. We don’t see any of the characters change throughout except for the end scene, but there is no gradual shift of attitude toward each other, they just start off disliking each other one moment; then just start loving each other…
The film also suffers from a painfully weak villain, who we learn very little about nor do we know why he’s there in the first place. He isn’t particularly fear inducing or scary, and is just a complete cruel idiot for no reason whatsoever. The climax is also rushed, underwhelming and a slight let-down.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is great fun and the comedy is brilliant and clever. The actors are excellent and their perfect for their role; they’re most definitely likeable! The action is great and so’s the chemistry between the characters, but does suffer from typical action clichés, however in the end, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is absolutely great!