Ah, winter. It’s a time for family, food, and crowd-pleasing entertainment. And surprisingly enough, Sony and Columbia Pictures have a potential hit on their hands called Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. While some out there may be nervous about how it steps on the toes of Robin Williams’ 1995 original, but I’m here to tell you that such fears are unfounded.
This is the first video game movie that succeeds on every level.
The Cast Works Incredibly Well.
One of the biggest surprises in this film is its strong cast.
Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Ser’Darius Blain, and Morgan Turner bookends the film with some surprisingly funny commentary on high school and all of the nonsense that goes with it. They are not given a ton of screen time, but their individual segments are awkwardly relatable. I hope that we see more of them in the future.
The real stars of the show are Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Dwayne Johnson, who play the avatars of the aforementioned teenagers in the game. In a clever twist, they are also allowed to play with the personalities of each teen, which adds to the video game atmosphere that the writers sought to create.
I won’t spoil anything here, but Karen Gillan and Dwayne Johnson deliver the best performances in the film. Their work is worth the price of admission and so much more.
The Plot And Humor Are Meta As Hell.
Welcome to the Jungle has a lot going for it, and the plot is no exception. It’s blisteringly fast, funny as hell, and serves as a grand, triumphant love letter to video games.
The film focuses on Spencer Gilpin (Wolff), Bethany Walker (Iseman), “Fridge” Johnson (Blain), and Martha Kaply (Turner). These four teenagers are in their own little bubble at the start of the movie, but find themselves thrust together when three incidents land them in detention. By the time that Spencer discovers the titular video game, we know just enough to empathize with each of them. After that, its off to the races.
When the film enters the gaming world, it sustains itself with a ton of winks and nods to Lara Croft, Indiana Jones, and all of the other adventure games that we played when we were young. The script plays with music cues, gaming tropes, and the silly repetition of dialogue that one might see from time to time.
It’s a ton of fun to watch.
The Action Set Pieces Are Top Notch.
The film relies on digital effects for most of its running time, but that’s ultimately okay because the action sequences are spectacular. Karen Gillan and Dwayne Johnson are given the most to do in the video game set pieces, but it makes sense because the story set them up that way. But again, I don’t want to spoil anything. There are a ton of surprises!
On top of that, the cinematography and practical effects are a marvel. Jake Kasdan let the film breathe and allows us to see the adventure in all of its glory. The scenes in the bazaar and the surrounding Hawaiian landscape highlight how gorgeous the movie is to look at. It’s tasty icing on a delicious piece of cake.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a film that is not to be missed. If you love adventure flicks and video games, this film plays with everything that you enjoy and so much more. It has a great cast, a surprisingly profound story, and all of the spectacle that you could ever want from a blockbuster.
To put it simply, it’s ass-kicking entertainment at its finest. Go watch it!
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