Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Director: Jake Kasdan
Writer: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner
Sequel to: (kinda) Jumanji
Based on: Chris Van Allsburg‘s picture book Jumanji
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Rhys Darby, Bobby Cannavale, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Morgan Turner, Colin Hanks
Seen on: 10.1.2018

Alex (Alex Wolff), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Bethany (Madison Iseman) and Martha (Morgan Turner) are all sent to detention and have to clean up the school’s storage room. There they stumble on an old console with the game Jumanji. They decide to play and as each of them choses their character, they get sucked into the video game. And the only way out is through.

I didn’t expect much of a sequel to Jumanji, one of my childhood favorites. But I was pleasantly surprised by the film: it is genuinely funny and extremely entertaining.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is not a high-brow film. It is silly and sometimes it’s outright stupid. But it had me laughing out loud more than once. I’m a sucker for a good bodyswap story – and it was very well executed here, digging nicely into the characters and working out just what would make them stumble in their new bodies. (For me as a sociologist, it would also be interesting to look more closely at Jack Black’s performance in particular.)

Of course, I wouldn’t have minded if Karen Gillan hadn’t been the only woman in the group of playable characters and if she wasn’t dressed so nonsensically, but then again, given that we’re talking about a rather old video game (not that newer video games would necessarily be better about this), it follows the conventions of the medium at least. Just as the film generally plays nicely with games as a medium.

Whether the change from Jumanji as a board game to Jumanji as a video game was all that necessary is an open question for me. Kids and adults still play and enjoy board games, even with video games around. But they did a good job with the change regardless.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle may not be a masterpiece, but I think it nicely captures the spirit of the old film and builds another hugely enjoyable film from it.

Summarizing: A whole lot of fun.


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