The drums beat heavy in the air, the impending sound of doom resonating with their deep sounds indicating another threat on the horizon. Those tribal instruments were just one component of the adventure Jumanji was back in the 90s, well that and about a thousand other things that made for a fun adventure. Now, decades later, the jungle is to be unleashed once more to the modern generation in hopes of reviving the adventure once more, perhaps for more sequels. Robbie K here to give you the 411 on the latest movies, so let’s get started!
The References: It’s always fun to get pleasant memories of your childhood refreshed with a nostalgic reference. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, tips its hat towards a couple of Easter eggs that will take you back to the nineties. The animatronic animals, the familiar sounds of wild life hidden in the bushes, and a few shout outs to previous characters were well placed to revive the spark the prequel made long ago.
Acting: Okay, this film isn’t going to win any major awards for best actor/actress, but that doesn’t count it out for quality, entertaining talent. Dwayne Johnson is still a rugged, stud adventure type with a smolder and skill for comedic sarcasm. Kevin Hart has the rant style down, focusing on energetic, loud delivery with a little cursing to sweeten the pot. Jack Black provides the awkward comedy, yet manages to take it one step further by acting like a girl trapped in a man’s body, including all the mannerisms that modern teenage girls exemplify. Karen Gillan is edgy, angst filled, yet somehow reserved to bring a fighter not fueled by raging hormones of stress. While it doesn’t sound that different, there are a couple of things that impressed me. The first is that the chemistry between these actors, which seemed very natural as they bounced their insults and dialogue off of one another. The second component is how the actors seemed to portray not only the qualities of their avatar, but also of the kids trapped inside them. Much like Jack Black, the actors all had to balance teenage adolescent with epic adventure role and it worked very well for me.
Comedy: By far the strongest component for me though is the laugh fest hidden in the foliage of the artificial jungle world. Jumanji 2 was one of the funniest adventures I’ve seen in a while, filled with a plethora of comedic styles to tickle your fancy in a variety of ways. Insult humor, one-liners, meme worthy antics, and even sexual innuendos are all crammed into the 2-hour run time. Spreading the humor throughout kept things fresh for me and changing up the style only further kept me laughing. However, the component I loved was how tasteful the stupidity was, managing to combine wit and slapstick into a blend that is just a hoot to watch. I feel this style will work for a wide variety of ages, though beware of the occasional curse bomb to light up the screen.
A Little Corny/Stretch: Welcome to the Jungle is a stretch in many regards, however there are times where the movie treks of the already ridiculous path. Some of the action scenes have stunts that defy physics, or performances that are pushing the limits at times. These inconsistencies are easy to ignore for the most part, and really don’t ruin much with all the fun to be had. Yet, these components are a little cheesy at times, fake looking even more so, and dilutes the message in a preachy fashion.
The Bad Guy: The main villain has a cool power to use, but sadly the villain doesn’t utilize it very well. In addition, the primary antagonist and his cronies are a little anticlimactic in terms of threatening the jungle, being more roar than bite. A few lousy maneuvers, a threat here or there, and some lame NPC minions just didn’t do it for me in regards to development and design.
Missing Adventure: As fun as the video game twist was on the movie, I missed the component of the board game that made the original the adventure it was. Remember the terror of the unknown as the dice rolled and the swirling green mist formed into a message? How about seeing the horrors of the jungle out into the real world and our heroes having to do everything to keep the board safe? Yeah, those thrills are what Jumanji was about as the beasts were unleashed in special effect glory. This movie focused a little too heavy on the biker gang motive and sort of ditched the jungle component for me. I missed the animal part of this adventure and the blending of these threats together, and the adventure they crafted.
Welcome to the Jungle is a very fun movie and I was not disappointed as I could have been. It’s funny, with a great cast to bring the crew to life and a great energy to keep one entertained throughout the whole movie. Yet, the comedy seemed to be the main focus, because the balanced laughs really overshadowed the adventure component the first movie had within it. Still, many ages will enjoy what this movie has to offer and will be quoting this movie for quite some time after it leaves theaters. Worth a trip to the theater? Absolutely, though save your dough and don’t see it in 3-D.
Movie Overall: 6.0