When it was announced that the beloved film Jumanji, starring the late Robin Williams and a young Kirsten Dunst, there was an expected uproar from fans of the 1995 film. And rightly so, over the past few years there have been a number of properties which have had sequels over a decade after the previous film, usually to a disappointing result. Zoolander 2 was not only boring but also not funny, Dumb And Dumber 2 wasn’t anything special and Anchorman 2 didn’t live up to the legendary first film. However, I feel like director Jake Kasdan made the right decision in not making a prequel or sequel to the cult classic, but actually making a film within the same world. He and the screenwriting team took risks with modernising the plot, a risk that paid off for the most part.
The biggest credit to this film is its cast, had they not managed to pull big talents for the main four I don’t think the film would be anywhere near as entertaining. For me, there are two main standouts in the film and they would be Jack Black and Kevin Hart. I was unsure how Hrt’s comedy would play in a family film, being disappointed with his voice-over work in last year’s The Secret Life Of Pets, and although he was allowed a few liberties with language, he managed to pull off comedy that was not too over the top, like he has been known to do. Black arguably had the hardest and most non-self role, playing a modern teenage girl, a role he excelled in without over killing the jokes. Watching Black interact with the other characters and seeing his subtle gestures show why he should be considered for more comedic roles, still demonstrating his talents from films like School Of Rock and Shallow Hal.
This doesn’t take away from Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan, who round out the cast and hold their own with the action and comedic scenes. Gillan is an experienced hand from her Marvel outings in the action scenes, but the film really gives her the opportunity to demonstrate her comedic ability. The actress particularly excels in the guard seduction scene, a great training montage with Black’s characters. Johnson continues to be the busiest man in Hollywood, and he continues to demonstrate he can lead another big franchise. In my opinion, I have seen him be better in other films, but this is a massive improvement from summer’s Baywatch. Although I often think Johnson struggles with some of the comedy, his smouldering joke was funny. Nick Jonas seems to be excluded from most of the conversation surrounding the film but I thought he was a meaningful addition to the cast.
Deciding to bring the franchise into the 21st century made this film relevant and was a decision that I believe paid off. The video-game aspect worked well, adding a stake to the film and moving the plot forward. The film relies on CGI and it doesn’t distract from the film, I particularly enjoyed the albino rhino helicopter chase that is shown in the trailer. My biggest complaint was with the slightly over-the-top villain, although this can be common in retro 80s video games, but I would have liked to have seen more of Bobby Cannavale who feels slightly wasted in this film. I often found myself giving the film a pass for some of the more exaggerated scenes mostly because I would remember this is supposed to be a video game.
As a family film, this Jumanji outing does well to actually be fun for the entire family. Managing to work on Pixar’s comedy strategy, the film combines slapstick comedy and thrills for the kids and clever, tongue-in-cheek jokes for the adults. The film has done extremely well at the box office, already hitting $523million mark, especially remarkable with the film going up against the biggest film of 2017, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This is a great example of a Holiday film that has exploded at the box office, and for once it is a film that is deserving its success. Controversially, I hope we don’t return to this franchise for another decade or so, maybe the franchise could explore the world of internet games, mobile games or VR, I would hate to see these characters jump back into a repeat of the same plot. Maybe the film will be focussed on some form of game that isn’t even invented yet, but hopefully, it will live up to the great films in the Jumanji franchise.
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