Jumanji was a breakout comedy when it was released in the 90s as it delivered an exciting premise of a board game that comes to life. The follow-up, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle continues that premise with four new players in tow, who get sucked into a video game version of the game.
Updated for the new generation, the new version of Jumanji takes root in an old school console game instead of a board game (because no one plays those anymore). The new film sees four high school kids discovering an old console, which sucks them into a mysterious jungle where they inhabit four avatars.
Gamer Spencer becomes a brawny adventurer (Dwayne Johnson); football jock Fridge loses (in his words) “the top two feet of his body” and becomes an Einstein (Kevin Hart); popular girl Bethany becomes a middle-aged male professor (Jack Black); and wallflower Martha becomes a badass warrior (Karen Gillan).
What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji – you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives and change the way they think about themselves – or they’ll be stuck in the game forever.
Although it continues the legacy of Jumanji, this time with moviegoers brought into the game setting itself, this sequel/reboot manages to stand on its own two feet. There’s a subtle and cool nod to Alan Parrish (Robin Williams), which ties the franchise together quite nicely.
Nevertheless though it’s not so much the jungle setting and effects that carry the movie, although it would have been nice to see more wild animals and crazy jungle vines, but the stars of the film themselves. Acting as teenagers trapped in avatars, Johnson, Hart, Gillan and especially Black deliver some pretty solid laughs and guffaws.
However in the midst of the action and jokes, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle also serves up a healthy dose of life lessons and heart. Overall, despite some minor flaws, this follow-up to Jumanji feels fresh and fits in as a good continuation to the original film.
Popcorn Rating: Mildly Fresh