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Movie Review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Updated on August 21, 2019
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Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle Blu-ray cover.
Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle Blu-ray cover. | Source

Quick Info

Director: Jake Kasdan
Distributor: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures
Runtime: 119 minutes
Released: March 20, 2018
Availability: on DVD, blu-ray and digital copy

Story Summary

In 1996, one year after Jumanji (1995), Alex Vreeke’s father finds the board game and gives it to him. He doesn’t seem interested at first but like Alan, he disappears after being pulled into the game. 20 years later, a group of teenagers discover the Jumanji videogame while cleaning up in detention. They are sucked into the game, and like Alan Parish, they must complete the game in order to leave.

Jumanji’s Return is Odd, but Fun

While Jumanji (1995) is loved by kids that grew up with it, it’s not one that people were expecting a direct sequel for; there has been a cartoon sequel, but never a direct movie sequel. Audiences were initially confused because people assumed this was a reboot or a remake and not a direct sequel, so initial reception was somewhat negative or skeptical, which is understandable if you enjoyed the first film.

Being trapped in a videogame isn’t really anything new either, it’s been done in many anime series and has become an obnoxious premise, but Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) has a nice twist on that, because the players actually become their avatars, or player characters, who are portrayed by different actors and usually, the players are portrayed by the same actors in these stories.

This is actually an entertaining twist on being trapped in a videogame that even anime hasn’t done yet, and that’s why I find it unique and fun and the story’s just a good fun ride.

THe humor is so funny if you understand videogame tropes.
THe humor is so funny if you understand videogame tropes. | Source

I enjoyed the Story

I enjoyed the story of this film a lot, sure it’s not super deep, but there is character development and it’s just entertaining to see a movie parody all sorts of videogame tropes.

It’s also hilarious to see the player characters literally trapped in the bodies of avatars that are their complete opposite and then having to deal with all the changes, it’s just fun and I was entertained by it, especially since I play a lot of videogames and I understand these tropes.

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE - Official Trailer (HD)

The Visual Effects Look Great!

While Jumanji (1995) is very impressive, especially for the time, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) looks amazing and it does surpass the original in terms of CGI, but the original did a great job with practical effects and CGI, but overall, this film still looks great.

The CGI for the animals is really impressive and it looks even better than the first film’s CGI.

The filming in Hawaii was very lovely and that is not CGI, they had a lot of great locations to shoot at and it’s memorable because it’s so pretty.

The Acting is Hilarious!

While the actors playing the normal teens before they go into the game are good actors, they are not the main draw of this film. The main draw of this film is the actors for the game avatars or player characters.

Dwayne Johnson is great as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, now I know it’s a running gag that everyone says Dewayne Johnson never says no to a role, and that can be hit or miss, depending on what films you like to watch him in, but I did enjoy him in this film a lot and he was just great as Spencer the nerdy teen stuck in the action hero’s body.

Jack Black is hilarious as Professor Sheldon "Shelly" Oberon. He’s hilarious because he’s portraying a teenage girl stuck in a man’s body. It’s also funny because he sounds like a girl with a feminine voice but he’s still a man and he has funny reactions to everything.

Kevin Hart as Franklin "Mouse" Finbar, and he’s also hysterical because he’s portraying the tall Anthony "Fridge" Johnson in the body of a short man. He also has a big ego so it makes his interactions with Dr. Bravestone even better because he’s Bravestone’s weapons valet. There’s also a hilarious scene involving cake.

Karen Gillan is fantastic as Ruby Roundhouse. She’s portraying a shy, awkward, cynical Martha Kaply trapped in the body of the action girl. It’s nice to see her outside of Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. I also have to compliment her American accent since she’s Scottish and not American and she did a great job in the role.

Nick Jonas is also excellent as Jefferson "Seaplane" McDonough, Alex Vreeke's. He’s been in acting for a long time but I haven’t paid attention to him since he was in the Jonas Brothers and that was a very long time ago. He did a great job in his performance as Jefferson McDonough and I liked his acting in this film. It’s nice to see him still getting to act and be in entertaining movies.

Bobby Cannavale is also entertaining as Russel Van Pelt. I like how they didn’t just rehash Van Pelt being a hunter that hunted humans as that would be repetitive and boring. Instead, he wants to rule over Jumanji and that makes him a different villain from the previous Van Pelt, while I like the original more, it’s still a good change so it did not copy the first film.

Rhys Darby was funny as Nigel Billingsley, the players' NPC guide for the game. He’s the info-dumping NPC that gives exposition and I like how cheerful he is, but it does get annoying that he does repeat himself as an NPC does in a videogame. He is still a fun aspect of the film.

Overall, I liked the acting in this film, it wasn’t the best ever, but it was very entertaining and fun and I enjoyed the movie because of the actors.

The Jumanji Overture

The Soundtrack is Good

Henry Jackman’s score is good. Not the greatest music ever, but it is fun and compliments the film. It also uses a similar theme for the Jumanji drums that the 1995 film used but it’s still a unique score.

It may not be the most amazing musical score ever, but it was good.

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The Humor is Entertaining

I did enjoy the humor in this movie, especially the physical humor between Dewayne Johnson and Kevin Hart; it was hilarious to see Dewayne carrying Kevin running away from a stampede while he’s screaming in protest.

There’s also a lot of physical humor between the two because of the size difference and the people that are trapped in their avatars’ bodies. It makes for an entertaining comedy.

The Tonal Shift from the First Film is Jarring

While the original Jumanji (1995) film did have humor, it seemed more like a children’s horror film than a comedy. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) downplays some of the horror aspects, although some things are acknowledged as a horrifying idea, this film completely sells itself as a comedy more than a horror film.

You’ll notice the tonal shift more if you watch them back to back as I did, I watched this film within days of finishing the first Jumanji film and the difference in tone is very noticeable.

If you liked the more horrific aspects of the first film, well, horror for a kids’ film anyway, you might not like the shift towards comedy in this film compare to the last installment.

I didn’t mind, but I understand why people like the original more than the sequel.

Gamers Will get the Jokes More

As someone that plays videogames, I understand the humor the film goes for, since many of the jokes are videogame-related. Viewers that do play videogames may be annoyed by the exposition about videogame mechanics, but it’s there mainly for people who do not play videogames that aren’t mobile games on their phones.

If you do play videogames, you will enjoy the humor of this film.

This is what happens when the gamer nerd is trapped in the avatar of the action hero.
This is what happens when the gamer nerd is trapped in the avatar of the action hero. | Source

It can’t quite live up to the Original

While I really enjoyed Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), it can’t quite surpass the original film but I had fun and I enjoyed the comedy. While this is an entertaining film it might not be the must-have for fans of Jumanji (1995). I suppose it depends on how much you liked the story and the actors.

It can’t surpass the original, but I enjoyed it a lot. It was fun, but not amazing. It is a nice way to gain a new audience who might want to watch the original Jumanji (1995) after seeing this one since it does work fine as a standalone film.

Parental Warning

There is some swearing in this film. Along with toilet humor and jokes. It is a PG-13 film. The violence is mainly videogame-related so it’s not too graphic but people do die and respawn.

I liked it, and I’m looking forward to the Sequel, the First is Still the Best

I enjoyed this film a lot, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) is a humorous and entertaining movie. It’s not a perfect movie by any means, but I still enjoyed it a lot. I also got more of the gamer jokes because I am one and my favorite game genres are action games and action-RPGs so all the in-jokes are funnier to me.

I also enjoyed the storytelling and the actors as well. It’s a fun movie that was entertaining and enjoyable. It can’t surpass original but I had fun watching it.

The first film had a better story and I enjoyed it but the sequel is still an enjoyable movie to watch.

Quiick Summary

What Works:
What Doesn't Works:
Fun story, characters, and world-building
The humor relies on undestanding gamer humor
Great visual effects
It can't live up to the original film
Great acting
The tonal shift is jarring between the first two films
Good soundtrack
 

My Grade: B

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) isn’t the best movie sequel ever, but I enjoyed it a lot. I’m looking forward to the next film and I’m excited to see what they will change in the next film.

While it doesn’t surpass the original Jumanji (1995), I still enjoyed Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017). While I don’t feel compelled to buy a physical or digital copy, I enjoyed borrowing it from my local library after I watched the first film on TV. It was worth my time to watch.

If you enjoyed the movie you should buy it or borrow it from your local library if you can. It’s not up for rental on digital distribution yet. I’d say give it a shot if you enjoyed Jumanji (1995), but only buy it if you really liked it.

I’ll borrow the sequel from my local library when it becomes available on DVD. I like the series, but not quite enough to spend money on it. It is a fun and enjoyable film and I look forward to seeing more.

My Rating

4 stars for Movie Review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

© 2019 ReViewMeMedia

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