Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is a film that didn’t appeal to me from the trailer because… Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. I have got rather sick of that pair. Plus, they seem to be trashing a wonderful original movie. However, with the film released in UK cinemas just a few days after Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, surely that was a bad time because it would tank in the Jedi’s aftermath?
Well, 2-3 months on and it was still a regular fixture in a lot of cinemas, such as the 20-screen Odeon at the Trafford Centre, so it clearly has longevity, and therefore, there must be something in this movie that I overlooked originally? Hence, my curiosity was piqued… and that was nothing to do with Karen Gillan in hot pants…
Jack Black is also in this, and he plays a woman… but we’ll get to that.
Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle also delves into the world of videogames, but only because they enter the forest-type land through a game onscreen rather than via a board.
It’s 1996 and Alex (Nick Jonas) is hearing jungle drums coming out of the board game, except now, the game comes on a cartridge… which would normally be a bit difficult to play given that he has an original Playstation. Then again, up close, the console is one that didn’t actually exist, so that’s clearly cheaper to make a plastic shell than pay Sony some royalties… Hang on, this is from Sony Pictures, so… I don’t get that at all. Why not just show an original Playstation?
The four high-school kids who will enter the jungle do so via detention, namely: Fridge, the high-school jock (Ser’Darius Blain), Spencer the nerd (Alex Wolff), Bethany the hottie (Madison Iseman) and Martha the female nerd (Morgan Turner). Whilst in there, they come across the aforementioned console, select their characters and end up as – retrospectively – Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black and Karen Gillan… yes, Bethany becomes Jack Black.
The brief premise for Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is that the evil Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) found a priceless green jewel, took it for himself, and now our four heroes must return it from whence it came, so they can shout “Jumanji” and complete the game, as instructed by their guide, Nigel (of Flight of the Conchords’ Rhys Darby). Once in there, they’ll come across Alex and, like Robin Williams in the original movie, they have to get him out of there and all return home safely.
However, is Nick Jonas an adequate replacement for Robin Williams? Is Donald Trump a respectable human being?
So, it’s Jumanji-lite, but for young kids, they’ll enjoy the action, whereas for teenagers, it teaches them to be positive about their body image, given how Martha and Bethany turn out in the game. Plus, while The Rock and Ms Gillan make a reasonable fist of what they’re given, the other two are miscast. It’s like Hollywood just thought – who’s the first and most famous fat guy and black guy we can think of to lead a Christmas movie?
There’s just none of the heart or the charm of the original in this and it’s also overladen with CGI. I get that they wanted to show the jungle in this one which we didn’t get to see in the 1996 movie, but sometimes, less is more. Similarly, I love the Grand Theft Auto games because they take place in a real world settings and, for example, you can just get in any vehicle and drive anywhere, whereas the mystical land of Warcraft just leaves me cold as it’s so distanced from reality.
Of course, I’m completely wrong, since while this one cost $90m to make (reportedly $10m less than the original), remember my initial thoughts about it being dwarfed by the ways of the force? Well, prior to its home release, this took $404m in the US, and a total of $956m worldwide, so that’s at least two more films in this series still to come. Let’s hope they can actually work on an original storyline to put them back in the alternate world next time.
Coming Xmas 2019: “Jumanji 3: Ju-MAN-Ji or Ju-MARN-Ji”? Let’s call the whole thing off… That pronunciation debate will rage on longer than Brexit.
Well, that and the question of why we had to keep suffering the godawful reggae-fied cover version of Peter Frampton’s Baby, I Love Your Way, by Big Mountain, which reached No.2 in 1994.
For anyone interested in post-credits scenes, there are none in this film, although as the score ends while the credits do too, the jungle drums start up again.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and as you’d expect for a modern movie shot on digital film, it looks flawless. I’m watching on a PS4 played through a 50″ Plasma TV.
The DTS 5.1 HD-MA sound is all crash/bash/smash for a lot of the time, with a fair number of split-surround moments, so if you enjoyed the film, this soundtrack complements it very well indeed.
The extras are as follows and they’re fine… short, but fine:
- Gag Reel (2:25): Goofs and outtakes.
- Journey Through The Jungle: The Making of Jumanji (14:54): Rhys Darby introduces this segment which is the usual selection of clips from the film mixed with chat from the cast and crew, and on-set footage, as they go hard at play in Hawaii where it was filmed.
- Meet the Players: A Heroic Cast (7:08): The four leads talk about their characters as well as
- Surviving The Jungle: Spectacular Stunts (5:47): A look stunts, whether it involves roundhouse kicks, motorbikes or waterfalls.
- Attack of the Rhinos! (3:56): CGI aplenty was used for this scene. I can appreciate it took a long time to put together, but it just feels so unreal it made me feel distanced from it.
- Book to Board Game to Big Screen & Beyond! Celebrating the Legacy of Jumanji (4:44): When comparing the two films, it just reminds you of the late, great Robin Williams and makes you wish he was still with us.
- Jumanji, Jumanji Music Video (3:35): Jack Black and Nick Jonas attempt to sing. The others look unimpressed. Remember the Jonas Brothers and their purity rings? Yeah, I tried to forget, too.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
The menu has a static shot of the four leads with composer Henry Jackman’s movie track, The Power of Bravestone – relating to The Rock’s character, behind them. So, that’s a bit bland. Also, it’s annoying that as soon as you put the disc in, it shouts at you with a 49-second clip about how there are extras to be checked out. Yes, I know. That’s how Blu-rays and DVDs work.
Running time: 119 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
Released: April 30th 2018
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Languages: DTS-HD MA 5.1: English; DTS 5.1: Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Turkish
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Turkish
Format: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (3.4K), Dolby Vision)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Jake Kasdan
Producers: William Teitler and Matt Tolmach
Screenplay: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner and Chris McKenna (based on the book Jumanji by
Chris Van Allsburg, and the Jumanji film by Greg Taylor, Jim Strain, Chris Van Allsburg and Jonathan Hensleigh)
Music: Henry Jackman
Spencer: Dwayne Johnson
Fridge: Kevin Hart
Bethany: Jack Black
Martha: Karen Gillan
Nigel: Rhys Darby
Van Pelt: Bobby Cannavale
Alex: Nick Jonas
Young Spencer: Alex Wolff
Young Fridge: Ser’Darius Blain
Young Bethany: Madison Iseman
Young Martha: Morgan Turner
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.