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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jan 22, 2018

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle Movie Review - Exciting Reboot Of The 1995 Comedy Action-Adventure Movie That Kids Will Surely Enjoy

THE FIRST “Jumanji” was shown in 1995, with the late Robin Williams playing a kid who’s been stuck inside the game for decades. His character is similar to that of Nick Jonas in the 2017 version as Jefferson ‘Seaplane’ McDonough.

There were only two teen siblings who played the game before and one of them was Kirsten Dunst, who has since gone on to play bigger roles. The new version, “Jumanji, Welcome to the Jungle”, is not really a sequel but more of a reboot, but both of them are based on the same illustrated children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg.

This time, four high school students play the game. But before they’re introduced, there’s a prologue set in 1996 where Jumanji, now a video game and no longer a board game, is found on a beach and played by a boy, Alex, who gets sucked into the game.

Then the movie jumps 20 years later. Four teens, the nerdy Spencer (Alex Wolff), football player Fridge (SerDarius Blain), self centered sexy girl Bethany (Madison Iseman) and the outcast Martha (Morgan Turner), are ordered to serve detention in their school basement where they find the Jumanji game and make the mistake of playing it.

They become the avatars they chose. The geeky Spencer turns into archaelogist Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). The alpha male jock that is Fridge gets cut down to size to become his sidekick, the height challenged Moose Finbar (Kevin Hart). Together, The Rock and Hart display the good comedic chemistry they’ve shown before in “Central Intelligence”.

The mousey Martha becomes the sexy action chick Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) whose specialty is dance fighting. And the bratty hot chick Bethany becomes the fat Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black).

They quickly figure out that they’ve become characters in the Jumanji game. Each of them possesses his own strength and weaknesses and they should now learn to work well and cooperate with each other, for them to win all the challenges before the game is over. Otherwise, they’ll forever be stuck in the Jumanji jungle or, worse, die.

The main villain is Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) who stole the jewel from an ancient icon which they must now locate and return to its origin. Director Jake Kasdan keep things moving at a fast pace, making the new version more entertaining than its predecessor. The Rock and Jack Black are both entertaining in playing offbeat roles. The Rock is obviously enjoying making fun of his macho image with his portrayal of a nerd who doesn’t exactly know how to handle being transformed into a muscle bound guy.

Jack’s interpretation of a girl impersonating a middle-aged fat guy can be very funny, especially in that scene where he’s teaching Ruby Roundhouse how to be sexy and seductive.

Since this is a special effects movie, the quality of the CGI is truly outstanding, with the action sequences played with video-like elements done with brevity and precision. As a comedy action-adventure flick, this kind of shallow entertainment will surely click with young audiences. And this is the reason why it’s not surprising that when it was released in time for the holiday season, it quickly became the number one movie in the U.S. and is on the top of the box office charts for several weeks now.