One of the biggest anticipated Boxing Day releases of 2017 is Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel/reboot to the 1994 film Jumanji starring Robin Williams. With Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the concept of a magic game is the same, but new characters are introduced.
These two films reminded me of The NeverEnding Story and The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter. Both NeverEnding Story films have a structure that the Jumanji franchise now follows. In the first NeverEnding Story film, a boy reads a book and as he continues to read, characters from the book enter into the real world. In the second NeverEnding Story film, the boy enters the book world and hopes that he can find his way back into the real world. In the 1994 film of Jumanji, creatures and characters from the Jumanji world enter the real world when the board game is played. In the 2017 film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the game has changed. Players are sucked into the Jumanji world and must play their way out as avatars, video-game style.
At what starts off as a ‘Breakfast Club‘ style beginning, turns into an exciting, comedic action-adventure. Actors Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan play the avatars of the Jumanji game known as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, Franklin ‘Moose’ Finbar, Professor Shelly Obearon and Ruby Roundhouse. The players of the game realise that they must follow the game’s storyline in order to get home.
Although the characters in the film are typical stereotypes, it is not without reason. Dwayne Johnson’s Dr. Bravestone (get it, ‘stone‘ as Dwayne Johnson is also known as ‘The Rock‘ derived from his wrestling days, clear pun intended) is the main character of the game with the best strength, speed and fighting abilities. Kevin Hart is Moose Finbar, sidekick to the main character in the game. Jack Black‘s character Professor Shelly Oberon is the intelligent avatar with his own special skill set. Ruby Roundhouse is Jumanji’s answer to Lara Croft, with Karen Gillan playing the sexy and feisty kick-ass female character. It isn’t just the characters that stay true to the video game format, but also the pacing of the film with every scene feeling like a different game level as the characters progress, which I found to be very thorough and clever.
If the set and scenery of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle looks familiar, it’s because Jurassic Park and Jurassic World are filmed at the same location; Kualoa Ranch in Oahu, Hawaii. I was lucky enough to visit Kualoa Ranch earlier this year and saw some props and sets of past and upcoming films. The scenery really is as beautiful as it looks on-screen with the cinematography doing Kualoa Ranch justice. The special effects and editing of the film are also fantastic, and I found the animation of the animals to be very convincing.
While the plot is very predictable, it doesn’t matter as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a fun and exciting experience. You don’t have to be an avid gamer to appreciate this film. The chemistry between the characters, perfect comic timing and the banter between The Rock and Kevin Hart make this film worth watching. Anyone who says otherwise is probably soulless and doesn’t know how to have fun. I could not stop smiling throughout the viewing of this film. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is worth every cent and I really hope that The Rock and Kevin Hart work on another film together soon.