Monday 11 December 2017

Film Review: Jumanji - Welcome to the Jungle

With a top notch cast as well as lots of fun and games, the new Jumanji film has everything you need this summer holidays.

Move over 80s nostalgia; now it’s time for the 90s to get in on the action. And what better way to evoke the feeling of the 90s than with a sequel to a Robin Williams classic?

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle swaps the spooky board game for a dusty videogame cartridge, and sees a quartet of youths transported from high school detention to the sweaty jungles of Jumanji, with each inhabiting the body of the playable character of their choosing.

Nerdy gamer Spencer (Alex Wolff) becomes the muscly Dr Smoulder Bravestone (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson); resident jock Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain) becomes pint-sized zoologist Moose Finbar (Kevin Hart); shy bookworm Martha (Morgan Turner) transforms into karate commando Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan); and snobbish cheerleader Bethany (Madison Iseman) is lumped with rotund cartographer Shelley Oberon (Jack Black). Their only hope of escaping the game is to return a magical jewel to its resting place atop a towering jaguar mountain, working together to evade the clutches of the evil Hardin (Bobby Cannavale).

Although reviving such a beloved family film at first seems like heresy, this sequel is actually well worth your time. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that its entertainment value came as a very welcome surprise. Fun, brash and inventive, Welcome to the Jungle is way better than it has any right to be, and a lot of this value can be attributed to its stellar casting.

Karen Gillan can karate kick me off a motorcycle ANY DAY

Watching the core cast play against type – whether it’s Johnson willing himself not to cry or Hart act tough whilst wearing a bucket hat and carting around a huge backpack – is great fun. Superficial and obsessed with Snapchat, Black, in particular, steals the show; dealt a character that could’ve gone either way, he makes pretty much every gag land. It doesn’t hurt that the videogame characters are great inventions too, especially Ruby Roundhouse, which sees Sony succeed in having its cake and eating it too. Gillan’s tank top and short shorts combo is going to jumpstart puberty is a lot of young minds, but her character is also an undeniable badass who entertains and kicks butt in equal measure.

Much like its forebear, Welcome to the Jungle is playing to the family crowd. There is a lot of humour in here that appeals to teens and young adults as much as it does it kids, which will be music to the ears of parents who are starved of ideas during the upcoming summer holidays. 

Even though it might be a tad scary for really small sprogs, the videogame tropes (three lives and you’re out, NPCs who say the same thing over and over) and the Breakfast Club-esque first act will be the perfect two-hour distraction for those who have grown up with the GameCube.

Similar to Sony's Goosebumps from a few years back or the rebooted Ghostbusters, that this film not just works but is actually pretty good is a genuine surprise to say the least. Kids will love it and parents will love that it isn't going for the lowest common denominator at every turn.

In a year dominated by remakes and reboots that do the bare minimum (we’re looking at you, The Mummy), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a surprising breath of fresh air that leans on a familiar conceit and does something different with it. The cast goes off like a house on fire and the clever integration of videogame motifs lends the film a new angle for a new generation of kids. 

The Verdict: 7.5/10

It’s a little shaggy and the final act could’ve done with a trim, but you’ll regularly find yourself laughing aloud or staring in disbelief at the silliness up on the screen during Welcome to the Jungle. Black kills it, Johnson and Hart's bromance continues and Gillan shows the boys how it's done. What's not to love?

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle opens in cinemas across Australia on Boxing Day.


  1. This was a fun one. I've come to the conclusion that I pretty much like everything that The Rock is in.

    Nice review.

    1. Bold call – not sure about that one, Baywatch was pretty bad ;)



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