Everyone remembers the Jumanji of the 90s where we fell in love with Robin Williams and his quirky character. The film is now being revisited by director Jake Kasdan to appeal to an audience of older kids – and, of course, to give the beloved film a taste of modernization. He finds a way to squeeze every drop of talent from his A-list cast and adds comedy duo Kevin Hart and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the leaders. Young audiences will still enjoy the hilarity of the scenes but their parents will also be able to find the humor in the dopey scenes.
Based on the 1981 children’s book by Chris Van Allensburg, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle replaces the magic of the supernatural board game with something that teens can relate to: video games. Instead of recreating it into something modern, like for instance an augmented reality smartphone app, it gives a nod to its 90’s predecessor by re-imagining the game as an old school video console. In the prologue, a teen stumbles on to a video game in 1996, turns it on and is immediately transported into an unknown world the audience can’t see.
The film then immediately cuts to the present day where Spencer (played by Alex Wolff) tries to navigate his way through a germ-ridden school. After a series of unfortunate events, he ends up in detention with Fridge, a football player (Ser’Darius Blain), conceited Bethany (Madison Iseman) and the introverted Martha (Morgan Turner). While cleaning the school’s huge storage closet as part of their punishment they find a relic from the 90’s. Yup, you guessed it: the video game. They decide to try it out and soon the four of them find themselves in a mysterious new world.
Once sucked into the game, they find themselves in a jungle and they turn into the character they chose at the beginning of the game. The adult game-versions stand in complete contrast of who they are, making the film funnier. Spencer becomes The Rock’s Smolder Bravestone, Fridge is a zoologist (Kevin Hart), Martha becomes the fierce Ruby Roundhouse, and Bethany, who is so obsessed about her looks, has turned into a tubby, middle-aged man – Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black).
The characters have to find the sought after Jewel of the Jungle but this is not without difficulty. The script included video game features and the characters have to deal with their heroes’ strengths and weaknesses as well as the fact that they only have 3 lives until it is GAME OVER. To make things worse, there is also an evil villain who crosses their path…
The film’s main appeal is the fact that something as simple as a video game works brilliantly on the big screen and can provide entertainment throughout. The adult characters also have to grapple with the ‘child within’ whilst trying to navigate through the jungle. The film allows the characters to develop without making it explicit, allowing it to be wholesome but thought-provoking fun for the whole family.
December 8, 2017