The original Jumanji was a bonafide smash hit all the way back in 1995.
Its success can be boiled down to three things: A ground-breaking mix of practical/CG effects, cute child characters (Kirsten Dunst, being one of them), and Robin Williams in one of his many iconic roles.
Nowadays, nothing is surprising to the modern audience.
Studios now inundate us with sequels, reboots, superheroes, and universes.
The long-awaited sequel, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, had many obstacles to overcome.
Standing out amongst the competition is difficult, but this installment ends up being one of the year’s biggest surprises.
We first meet a teenage boy obsessed with video games. His dad, running across the beach, finds the Jumanji board game in the sand.
The movie turns sour quickly, with Jumanji – having turned itself into a video game cartridge – pulling the teenager out of the real world.
21 years later, dweeb Spencer (Alex Wolff), football star “Fridge” (Ser’Darius Blain), vapid popular chick Bethany (Madison Iseman) and Martha (Morgan Turner) are given detention for varying reasons.
Soon enough, the foursome become sucked into the game.
The Breakfast Club-esque set-up lasts roughly 10 minutes, hastily getting us to the fully-realised Jumanji universe.
The four embody video game characters Dr Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart), Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) and Professor Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black).
This sequel-reboot does what it says on the tin.
Director Jake Kasdan finds his groove after woeful comedies Bad Teacher and Sex Tape.
Here, the material gives him more to work with.
Sticking to a brisk pace and light-hearted tone was correct, allowing the actors to flex their muscles and have a ball.
Hart and Johnson continue the dynamic first developed in Central Intelligence.
Johnson relishes the opportunity to play a nerd and gets many of the script’s best lines.
Black, coming back to mainstream movies after an extended hiatus, is even better.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle could have been a disaster or even one of the worst movies of the year.
Instead, thanks to a slew of dedicated people, it’s a step up from anything else out in theatres (The Greatest Showman, Pitch Perfect 3).