Mon | Feb 19, 2018

Jumanji sequel not a game changer

Published:Monday | December 25, 2017 | 12:08 AMDamian Levy
Kevin Hart (left), Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson (second left), Karen Gillian (second right) and Golden Globe Award nominee Jack Black in 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle'.

Set 20 years after the original film, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle invites viewers to jump back into the world of Jumanji. This time the game has changed. Literally. After being sent to detention teenagers Spencer, Bethany, Spencer and Fridge (yes, Fridge), discover a dusty old game system in their school's basement. After pressing a few buttons the four are transported into the game and changed into its characters. The rules are simple; beat the game and they will win their escape.

As a kids' film,  Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle does just fine. It’s humour was not at all fit for me, but it definitely held the attention of a cinema packed to the brim with children below 10 years old. It commits several mistakes often seen in movies aimed at a younger audience, though. Many times  Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle feels the need to explain concepts ad nauseum, for fear that the concept of lives in a video game are too dense for your average seven year-old.

What the film does do interestingly is the way it plays with the new video game format. It makes for some of the more clever aspects of the movie. The film both makes fun of and embraces the tropes and cliches often found in gaming with a loving disposition.

For most of the movie you spend time with stars you’ve come to know and love, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karren Gillan. The humour comes from the fact that these actors have to spend the film acting like the teenagers who’ve been sucked into the game. Dwayne Johnson, bodybuilder and wrestler, has to portray a skinny nerd, and Jack Black a vain Instagram obsessed teenage girl. It’s a funny concept that makes for some good body swap comedy, but one can’t help but think of the even better movie that lies in the behind the scenes' filming.

Still, for all its clever ideas,  Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle suffers greatly in its execution. Not much of the humour landed, which is worse considering the film never quite knows when to let a bad joke die. As a kids' film, it’s decent. Not nearly as innovative or special as Coco, but still something that offers more than your typical children’s film (especially as the film gets going and moves on from its muddled first act).

Rating for Adults: Catch It On Cable

Rating for Kids: Half Price