Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle Film Review

Gearing upto half term and back at the top of the US box office, if you haven't seen Jumanji then go see it now. Directed by Jake Kasdan it treats us to a romp in the jungle for today's Breakfast Club detention alumni.

Too cool for school Alex Vreeke's father hands him the box of Jumanji. Found on a beach, but this is 1996, and who plays board games anymore. So clever Jumanji turns itself into a video game, and well 20 years later Alex's house is the local scary house, with his father a crazy old man.

The kids of today are nerd Spencer played by Alex Wolff, and doing the homework for Ser'Darius Blain's jock Fridge, so he doesn't get thrown off the football team. However Spencer uses some lines from his previous papers, and they are found out, and sent for detention. Madison Iseman's self obsessed pretty Bethany and Morgan Turner's unsporty and studious Martha are also sent for detention. (I thought Morgan looks wise could be the daughter of Sleepless in Seattle's Barbara Garrick).

For detention the four are presented with a messy room to clear up, and on one of the shelves is an old Atari style game. Spencer plugs it in and they decide to play Jumanji. Each choosing a character and then literally get sucked into the game.

When they are spat out into the jungle of Jumanji they are their chosen avatar characters. Spencer the nerd is now Dwayne Johnson's rock hard Dr. Smolder Bravestone, Fridge is now pint-size Kevin Hart's Franklin "Mouse" Finbar. Martha is Karen Gillan's Ruby Roundhouse with a smoking body and Bethany becomes curvy Professor Sheldon "Shelly" Oberon. The wrong kind of curves for poor Bethany though, as Shelly is Jack Black's podgy middle-aged man. Sorry Jack, but he plays the teenage and mincing Bethany's avatar particularly well.

They are met by a non playing character who gives them the rules of the game. Rhys Darby's Nigel was involved in a big game hunt with Bobby Cannavale's Russel Van Pelt. Bobby is definitely having a ball in Jumanji. He stole a huge emerald from a sacred jaguar and now controls Jumanji's animals. Nigel then stole the jewel one night in camp and has been waiting to give it to the four players. Their task is to return the emerald that will remove the curse on the land, and call out Jumanji to finish the game.

As part of the game each player has three lives, but with all lives lost in the game comes the possibility of real death. And they each have special skills. Some more useful than others. Smolder has a smouldering look, how you doing? and is a fearless fighting machine with no weaknesses. (Except Spencer's own fears). Franklin is a zoologist. Useful when he gets eaten by a hippo. But his weakness is cake. Watch out for that one. Ruby is a kickass martial arts and dance fighting babe, with a venom weakness, and Shelly is a skilled cartographer with physical endurance being his weakness. They find a map in Smolder's pocket that only Shelly can read, and they're off.

Just roll with it because it's a fun game with the kids working together, and finding out more about themselves than they could ever have known, with their completely opposite avatar players. And as they progress through the levels to find the missing piece of the map, they discover Alex, sucked into the game from 1996, Nick Jonas as player Jefferson "Seaplane" McDonough. Yum indeed Bethany!

But he thinks he's been in the game two months, not 20 years, and is living in the tree house of the original player Alan Parrish. His skills are making margaritas and flying. And he's tried but cannot get past the transportation shed, and as he's down to his last life he's virtually stuck in Jumanji. But they need Alex to get them all out of the game.

Oh and the really bad news is that Alex's weakness is mosquitos. And he's stuck in a jungle. If one player loses all their lives and actually dies, do they all get stuck in Jumanji too? But you know Spencer quite likes his new body and well Ruby is quite the babe. And as the sequel is already in the works who knows where they'll end up.

So whose turn is it to roll? It's all great fun and if you liked the original Jumanji you'll have a blast.

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