Back in 1995 around this same time (I remember it very well) JUMANJI was released. Starring Robin Williams and Kirsten Dunst, the action-adventure, comedy wasn’t praised by critics much, nor was it a killer box-office monster. BUT… (Yes, there’s a but!) What it did do was leave a mark. All in a class of its own, kids and teens were drawn to it. It was fun, different at the time, and quite adventurous in terms of cinematic experience. At a run of about an hour-and-forty minutes or so, it was enjoyable escapism. I mean, come on, it also starred Robin Williams! You can’t go wrong. Inevitably, like yesterday’s newspaper, it came and went. BUT… (Yes, another but!) It was able to keep a life-line through video, cable TV, merchandising, etc. Through the years it was one of those titles one would come across with while channel-surfing.
Fast forward 20 years later and news breaks about Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in talks to jump on board a possible reboot. In a day-and-age where creativity seems a little dim, it was no surprise. First reactions where kinda “meh,” but as more and more about the updated version was revealed (followed by its first trailer), it was clear they had used its template, but went in a more cyber-like direction. It piqued interest. It’s finally here and now it’s time for this generation (along with a seasoned one) to endure this “new-and-improved” exposition of imagination gone wild.
And the results… Well, are quite positive! With star power like Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale, and directed by Jake Kasdan… In this brand-new adventure of JUMANJI, the game has changed as four teenagers in detention are sucked into the world of… You guessed it… JUMAAAANJIIII…! When they discover an old video game console with a game they’ve never heard of, they decide to play and are immediately thrust into the game’s jungle setting, in the bodies of avatar characters they chose. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji… Jumanji plays you!
It’s a silly sequel with child-like charm. The magic of this movie starts right when its leads are transported into the game. What an adventure, folks! From board game to video game, the spirit of JUMANI flows right through with WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE. A continuation that pays homage to the original, the upgrade presents a modern turning point with double the fun, laughs, adrenaline-ridden scenarios, multiple lives, powers, a menacing villain, and last-but-not-least; a cast that lives the magical adventure from start to finish. JUNGLE’s biggest appeal is watching its four adult stars portray all sorts of teenage characteristics. Coming off more like a sequel than reboot, JUMANJI ’95 has some tie-ins to this one. And it doesn’t tarnish it in the least bit. If anything, it elevates the original film’s soulful purpose. So much, I went back and watched it as I’m sure many will do once they get through this one. It’s an overall fun-filled, adventurous comedy that’ll be embraced by the franchise’s older fan-base, and as well as a new generation of thrill-seeking moviegoers. Great flick for the holiday season, just a bit bummed it’s opening during STAR WARS hoopla. Who approves that? Oh, yea. SONY did. Hopefully it’s able to hold strong, because WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE deserves a watch and most of all respect!
Grade: A | Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Comedy | Rated: PG-13 | Run Time: 2 Hrs.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevn Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan
Directed by: Jake Kasdan