Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Aida Vucic | 20/12/2017

Jumanji returns to the big screen, reincarnated as an early video game. It uses much of the same formula as its predecessor but seems to meld it with the likes of Breakfast Club, Freaky Friday and echoes of Indiana Jones to create a surprisingly entertaining family film.

By Breakfast Club, we're referring to our unknowing players, Spencer (Alex Wolff) aka the brain, Bethany (Madison Iseman) the princess, Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) the jock and Martha (Morgan Turner) the loner, who, while in detention, discover a mysterious game that will ultimately destroy their prior rifts. 


The foursome are sucked into the game, only to be transported into their avatars bodies, replaced by Dr. Xander Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart) and Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). It's these actors performances of the their former selves that provides most of the comedy. 


Particularly entertaining is Jack Black, whose portrayal of a teen girl is without a doubt the best performance of the lot. Not only is he able to achieve the laughs that were intended, but also bring a humanity to the character and gives an endearing element to the film that otherwise would be absent. 


The clear sexualisation of Ruby Roundhouse is forgiven as the film pokes fun at the stereotypical underpinnings of videogames, including the endless scantily dressed female avatars. This aspect could have been better developed, with the avatars having unimaginative skills and weakness which were exploited in a predictive manner. 


The films greatest failing is it's villain, John Hardin (Bobby Cannaval), who seems less of a villain than a guy who just enjoys the company of wild animals, particularly insects. Sharing little more then a handful of lines, its ultimately difficult to fear his wrath and the heroes are never in any threat of real danger. 


Many of its plots are borrowed, but surprisingly the film gels together to provide a relatively entertaining movie. Not bad for something that could have been a disaster.