With a beloved 90’s film it is hard to try to recapture the magic or even muster up the ability to hold up to any original film when trying to reboot a franchise. Jumanji being a film made in the 1995 based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg has its core foundation about being a game where you are trapped into playing it when you start and that the game changes you as a person by completing it. This film was able to take that concept and apply it to a new skin of a format to the new stand alone continuation.
The standouts from the film include Jack Black, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Karen Gillan. The younger actors playing the High Schoolers do a solid job to establish all the characters on a surface level. The actors playing the avatars do a great job carrying their performance into their own take to make sure that they are fluid and not jarring from real to video game. Kevin Hart I felt didn’t do enough to try to be the person he was suppose to play — he felt like he was playing himself. Nick Jonas was decent, I did feel that his placement was off but didn’t take me out of the movie.
NO! I’m an over-weight middle-aged man. Wait a second. Where’s my phone?
What I really appreciated in this film is the nods to the original film with Alan Parrish and the usage of having the rhymes sprinkled throughout the film. The evolution of the game from a Board Game to a retro cartridge video game felt organic and was handled properly. The revised game itself I found to be progressively smart. How the game is structured in levels with characters that had specialized tasks to do instead of people taking turns. The cut scene style was a nice touch, and the non playable character aspect was smart and effectively used. The villain was a weak point in being underdeveloped by that is nothing on Bobby Cannavale’s performance.
Overall the film succeeds in continuing the spirit of the original without destroying what came before. I did find the tone to be uneven between youth and adult comedy that didn’t make sense. I would have liked them to stick to one and go from there. I would be interested in seeing what they would do with a third entry that wasn’t just a mirror of the first with a smarter twist.