Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #32

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

There were a few films that were released last year that surprised people. The Last Jedi tore Star Wars fans into loving or loathing the 8th instalment. Baby Driver (check out my review for it here) left audiences loving Edgar Wright’s work. But one that surprised me was Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. I was expecting the usual Sony, with jokes that fall flat on their face and just an all-around mess. It was actually quite the opposite. Here’s my review on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle!

Jake Kasdan directs the sequel/spinoff/reboot of the 1995 classic, with a fantastic cast including Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan. Set in 2017, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle tells the story of four high school students who kind of know each other. The four are put in detention and get sucked into the video game version of Jumanji, choosing characters with certain abilities to solve puzzles and work their way out of the game and back to the real world.  Along the way, the four will go on a Breakfast-Club-like adventure of self-discovery and form friendships with people they’d least expect.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson stars as Dr Smolder Bravestone. I said in my Baywatch review that Johnson usually plays the same character in every film. Jumanji is a rare exception. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments where he was a strong, cocky, charming, muscular video game character, but he had a more humble and interesting side, which was far more enjoyable in this film. It showed a different side to the Rock’s acting and showed he was capable of a wider acting variety, as well as delivering a great performance. Kevin Hart reunites with The Rock and plays Moose Finbar, a zoologist and Bravestone’s sidekick. Kevin Hart was basically his usual shouty irritatable self, but there were times where he was funnier than he normally is. Karen Gillan plays Ruby Roundhouse, a badass fighter chick, with the personality of a shy and awkward teen. Gillan’s portrayal was fantastic, as she brought some good humour to the character, as well as combining someone who was badass with someone who was socially awkward, which was acted out well. The best character has to go to Jack Black who played an egotistical teenage girl trapped in the body of an overweight male professor. Black was easily the best part of the movie as his comedy was him acting like a teenage girl, but it was just such great acting from him that it was an incredible performance. Nick Jonas played Alex, a teenager who had been sucked into Jumanji since 1996. I feel like he was just thrown into the mix as someone who saved the main characters, though they could have probably saved themselves without his help. The villain of Van Pelt was played by Bobby Cannavale, and he was good, but his intentions were a bit unclear and there wasn’t much of a villain. He was just a barrier for the main characters to overcome.


Dr Bravestone and his team with the jewel to restore Jumanji

There wasn’t much for music in Jumanji and that kind of disappointed me. You have a great cast and a fantastic film, but choosing to play two songs, one during the credits, is a waste. There was so much potential for more good music to be used but this opportunity was missed. One of the songs was Guns N Roses ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, which should have been played during the opening. And it was too on the nose for my liking.

The plot and storyline were simple yet good. Four teenagers sucked into a video game who have to get out of the game without dying. When you add more ideas into the premise, it becomes a bigger task to solve, but also makes it a better movie, if you do it right. I think having the teenagers overcome a flaw within themselves is a great idea. A bit of a ripoff from The Breakfast Club, but still a good idea. However, it was a little difficult to see where Fridge’s character had a redemption. He basically just walked out of the jungle, fist-bumped Spencer and that was supposed to be enough for us to think he’s changed. Back on that Breakfast Club premise, it’s a good idea, but we need more time to actually understand and connect with the teenagers themselves before we can see them as basically the opposite of themselves through the characters in the game. The movie attempted to do this, and it did a fairly good job but relied on exposition to get the message across.

There were some good moments in the film that were actually pretty funny. Most of it came from Jack Black. They weren’t too memorable but were nonetheless still quite funny. I liked the action and stunts as they suited the tone of a video game and a movie at the same time. The best one that I loved the most was when Moose Finbar was resurrected and Bravestone caught him while hanging out of a helicopter which was on its side. That was awesome.

I’m going to give Jumanji a 7/10. It had a great cast and good action but lacked in some other places. It was better than what I expected and I had a fun time watching it, but there were definitely areas that could have been improved. I look forward to the sequel being made though I don’t know what they’ll do with it, it should hopefully be good.

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Once again, thanks for reading this weeks review. Join me next week where I review a magical fantasy movie from the guy who found America. See you there!