Release: 30th April 2018
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Four teenagers – Spencer, Bethany, Fridge and Martha – who seemingly could not be more different, are thrown together in detention, where they are mysteriously pulled into the world of the Jumanji game. Very quickly, they realise they need to figure out how to work together in order to survive. In their new personas, they are each uniquely qualified to do specific tasks – but all of them (well, most of them) are also uniquely hindered by weaknesses that will slow their progress.
If you’ll cast your mind back, the most risqué moment in the 1995 Robin Williams vehicle Jumanji involves a rapidly altering simian Peter Shepherd getting his (ahem) “tail” stuck in his trousers. Flash forward 22 years and now we have Jack Black shocked at the joys of peeing with a penis and getting erections. Oh how times have changed. And therein lies the major difference between a beloved classic and something The Rock has produced on a whim, with the director behind Bad Teacher and Sex Tape. It doesn’t mean that Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle is a bad film by any right, but the parental DNA between original and sequel is questionable enough that you’d wager it’d be worthy of a Maury Povich special.
Let’s be honest, Dwayne Johnson is less an actor and more a genre. Equal part action and comedy, you’re expecting the laws of physics and logic to be tested and the sides of your gut to rumble with mirth. Welcome to the Jungle delivers on all of the above. There is a plot somewhere, though you’d be hard pressed to make sense of it, and sticking Alan Parrish’s name on a treehouse apparently qualifies for canon. Kids will get a kick out of the silliness and adults will get a kick out of Jack Black lampooning every teenage girl cliche known to mankind. The real tragedy is that Karen Gillan’s costume (or lack thereof) and character arc show that this is very much a boy’s club. Something very much out of touch with its predecessor, but very in keeping with a man who still performs the ‘Rock Bottom’ as a legitimate fight move. You’ve gotta love the People’s champ.
Jake Kasdan handles his action scenes adequately; even if 90% of it is birthed from computers, and the main cast share a spicy chemistry that pushes a flimsy vignette style narrative forward. The idea that the Jumanji game alters to entice its victims is a neat concept, and one that will open things up to what everyone is no doubt hoping with be a franchise (Jumanji 3: Pop-Up Ad??? Jumanji 3: Snap…chat???). Meanwhile, the film’s writers (all 600 or them) have a lot of fun exploring the troupes of computer games (even if those troupes feel about 10 years out of date). So Welcome to the Jungle is an inoffensive bit of family fun. Does it deserve a soon to be $1 billion box office take? Well it sends a message that audiences prefer mediocrity to craft. But when you’re Dwayne Johnson, its just further excuse to live by the motto, ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it.’
Film Grade: C-
A suprisingly well rounded bunch of Behind the Scenes is accented with the marmite that is Jack Black and Nick Jonas singing a ‘new theme’ for the film. The term ‘realism’ is thrown around waaaay too much by cast and crew, for a film with visual effects not that far evolved in the 20+ years since the original.
Special Features Grade: C
A passable and harmless follow up to a 90’s classic. If anything, it will make you pine more for the late great, Robin Williams