By Dylan Botelho, Staff Writer
When it’s trailer first debuted, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle looked like it would spit directly in the face of its 1995 predecessor, Jumanji led by the late-great Robin Williams. After forcing myself into watching it just for the sake of fairness however, I came out of the theatre completely surprised and genuinely happy.
The sequel would put a new 21st century twist on the classic hit, sucking its main characters into a Jumanji video-game rather than focusing around a magically evil board game. You can see where my worries began, rarely has there been a successful video-game movie.
What felt like a shameless cash-grab for a younger generation ended up being a fresh and hilarious spin on a ‘90’s classic. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle took everything great about the original and made it feel like something completely new for a new audience.
When forced into the video-game, our main characters select characters that are practically the exact opposite of their real-life selves, creating constant laughs throughout the movie. Spencer, who’s a pushover nerd selects Dr. Smolder Bravestone who has no weakness and just about every strength, naturally Bravestone is played by the Rock.
Fridge, who’s your stereotypical jock, selects Moose Finbar, played by Kevin Hart, who is practically the exact opposite of Bravestone and forced to be his sidekick. Bethany is the mean girls-esque, snotty, pretty girl at the school and is transformed into Professor Shelly Oberon after thinking she is a girl, instead …it’s Jack Black. Lastly, we have the badass Ruby Roundhouse, played by Karen Gillan, who is chosen by Spencer’s nerd counterpart and love interest, Martha.
Each actor does a phenomenal job of portraying their characters contrasting personality with their in-game abilities, providing us with most of the movies best scenes. Nobody does a better job of this than Jack Black.
Jack Black is usually hit-or-miss for me, as sometimes he does a little too much or is too childish at times. His role as the pretty white girl, however, had me doubling over laughing at almost every line. One scene in particular stands out when Jack Black is attempting to teach the beautiful Karen Gillan how to flirt, with less than successful results.
The movie even gives a bunch of nods to typical video-game tropes that any gamer will appreciate. Characters within the game act exactly the same as non-playable characters (NPCs) in video-games, continuously repeating a single-line every time approached.
Each of our heroes are given life bars, signified by tattoos on their army as well as different checkable strengths and weaknesses based on their character. Jumanji’s map even has a sort-of “level progression” as new areas are unlocked and specific paths are drawn for characters to proceed on to once one area has been completed. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, may have inadvertently been one of the best video-game based movies, we’ve seen thus far.
I don’t think it’s fair to be too critical on a movie like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It’s the probably the same reason I enjoy the Pirates of the Caribbean series so much. Movies like these are meant to be enjoyable, they’re not meant to be broken down and studied scene-by-scene in brutal detail.
I was there for laughs, my only prior fear is that it would be filled with corny middle-school humor like fart-jokes and other cringe worthy lines that just don’t appeal to me. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is far from that however, and it may sound stereotypical, but it truly is a movie that everyone of all ages can enjoy.