Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
Directed By Jake Kasdan
My sister and I watched Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle this winter break. We love the movie star duo, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart as they had great chemistry in the movie, Central Intelligence, and so we had to watch a movie with those two together again. Thus, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was definitely on our to-watch list. Furthermore, my sister and I are fans of the original Jumanji film back in 1995 starring Robin Williams.
In this movie, four kids get sucked into the video game called Jumanji and they must win the game to escape or else die in the game.
Tribute to the Original
First of all, I like how this movie pays tribute to the original film by continuing where the film left off. At the end of the original movie, the Jumanji board game was buried in sand on a beach. In this new film, the film begins a year after the events of the original film. The board game was found by a passerby on the beach and was given to his son. The son, Alex Vreeke, had no interest in the board game because, at the time, video games became a more prominent form of youth entertainment as opposed to board games. The game, Jumanji, transforms into a video game and Alex happens to play it. He gets transported into the video game and about twenty years later, four other high school students get trapped into the game as well.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle pays homage to the character, Alan Parrish (Robin Williams) by showing the treehouse that Alan Parrish stayed in when he was trapped in the game before. There is also a scene where we see Alan Parrish’s name carved into some wood of the treehouse.
I praise Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan’s acting skills. They not only acted like badasses as their video game avatars but they had to act like high school teenagers with emotional baggage as well.
The avatar that Dwayne Johnson represented is Dr. Smolder Bravestone. Bravestone is “brave” and “courageous” which is the opposite of Spencer Gilpin (Alex Wolff), the high school student that selected Dr. Smolder Bravestone as his avatar. Spencer is more of a scardey-cat and is allergic to practically everything. Dwayne Johnson did an excellent intimation of Spencer. I think his role in Central Intelligence helped prepare him. In Central Intelligence, Dwayne Johnson played a soft-hearted buff guy. In this movie, Dwayne Johnson portrayed that soft-hearted persona with ease.
As for Kevin Hart, he continues to be a force of great humor and comedy. In this movie, Kevin Hart is the avatar, Franklin “Mouse” Finbar, the great zoologist. Hart had to act as the loud-mouth jock, Anthony “Fridge” Johnson. This role suited him since he always talks smack during NBA All-Star weekend.
While Karen Gillan played a role that I haven’t seen her play before. I never saw her in a comedy role before so it was great to see the comedic side of her acting. The avatar she portrayed is Ruby Roundhouse, the Killer of Men. It’s a great title for her because she really did kick some ass in this movie. One of the great action sequences was when Ruby was “dance fighting” and took down some bad guys so that the rest of the group can steal a plane. Karen Gillan also had to act like the shy bookworm, Martha Kaply. It was pretty funny when she acted like a teenage girl, especially when she had to show romantic interest to Dwayne Johnson who was acting as Spencer Gilpin.
I think the most surprising role is Jack Black who is Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon in the world of Jumanji. I am not a huge Jack Black fan and so, I felt indifferent that he was part of this movie. Yet, out of all the cast, he was the dark horse that made the movie a great laugh. For instance, Jack Black showed his feminine side as he tries to teach Ruby Roundhouse on how to act flirtatious.
The Elements of Board Games & Video Games
Both the original and new film adapt gaming elements into the storyline. In the original, you see the characters playing the game throughout the film but it was bit sporadic because there is no order or squence to the game. Every move had a twist where some sort of animal was released into the real world and the players had to get out of it or stop it as a side quest. The original film kept that chance mechanism from a board game in the movie’s storyline—where once you roll the dice, one isn’t sure what will happen next. However, such game elements didn’t work well with the film because the side quests distract the viewer from the main goal at hand and the rules of the game weren’t known ahead of time—a viewer learns the rules while the game is being played and while the movie continues along. Thus when it comes to board game mechanics, the game structure got lost in the storyline.
Yet in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, if you have played video games, you kind of already know the structure of the game and the story being told in the game. The high school students each select an avatar with unique skill sets and like an action-roleplaying game, the avatars are given a mission and must achieve it to win the game. In addition, the avatars must work together and so, the video game is also a co-op game. Right in the very beginning of the film, the elements of an RPG are shown as the main characters select their avatars and the mission is given to them. This also allows the viewers to think of a video game mindset and the mechanics of it as well. Furthermore, the elements of gaming are more prominent in this film rather than the original as we see the process of the video game structure being embedded into the storyline.
However, unlike the original film, there wasn’t much of an emphasis on wildlife and the jungle. We don’t see animals creating havoc on the players as opposed to the original film which really brought the jungle to the real world. Instead, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle focused on the storyline and humor, but I have no complaints with that.
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie and it’s a chill film you can watch with friends and family.