‘Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle’
Director: Jake Kasdan
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart
2.5 (Out Of 5) Globes
Plot: Set 20 years after the first “Jumanji,” the legendary board game has now evolved into a video game. Four high school kids on detention stumble upon this new incarnation of Jumanji, and immediately get sucked into it where they turn into the avatars Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), Franklin “Moose” Finbar (Kevin Hart), and Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). In order to escape and return to reality they have to complete the game, but they only have three lives and an abundance of dangerous scenarios and deadly creatures to overcome.
Review: Think back to the original “Jumanji.” Rather than it being memorable for the humor of Robin Williams, it instead stuck in people’s memories because of the chaos and the genuine peril that it created.
Unfortunately, “Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle” doesn’t generate anywhere near the same tension, and instead plays out in a relatively tame and predictable manner. It’s never not enjoyable, and it impressively creates stakes when they’re inside the game, but the themes and beats of the film are all way too familiar to get overly excited about.
What does keep “Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle” bobbing along enjoyably is its humor, though. Kevin Hart and Jack Black especially bring plenty of laughs, as they’re able to sell the surreal absurdity of their plight in a relatable and hilarious manner that takes advantage of their best qualities.
Black is warm, silly, and a little crude, Hart is cocky but small. Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan are solid if not spectacular, too, and the foursome are able to make up for “Welcome To The Jungle’s” shortcomings. But it is Hart and Black that really make the film pop when they are on screen.
There are teething problems, though. Way too much emphasis is put on the bookmarks to the film, especially when it comes to the conclusion, which is needlessly over complicated. And while the action scenes are big, loud, eclectic, and heavily inspired by Indiana Jones, which is never a bad thing, they never quite reach the chaos and bedlam of the original film.
It is all just a little too safe. Nevertheless “Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle” still delivers the requisite fun and laughs to be deemed worthwhile.