Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle
"Entertaining, adventurous and funny, certainly not a mental whiteout as expected"

Jumanji is a board game, or used to be in 1995 when Robin Williams played it. There are rules and forfeits. If you make a mistake, or throw the wrong dice, you end up inside the game which is like an alternative King Kong island kind of place. In other words, Jumanji is magic.

Welcome To The Jungle is different. You meet a bunch of teenagers, four to be exact, who are hanging out at high school and getting into trouble - not those 15-cert horror gigs, thank God - and ending up in the detention room.

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Spencer is a nerdy swot. Fridge is a dumb football star. Bethany is a social media Barbie and Martha is the closest you are going to get to a blue stocking.

In the detention room they find Jumanji and suddenly are being sucked into the game which looks like a South American jungle full of African wildlife. There is a storyline they have to follow. A bad dude with a biker gang is searching for a diamond the size of a croquet ball that was stolen from the eye of a giant sculptured beast.

Jamie Lee Curtis started all this in Freaky Friday by turning into her teenage daughter. When these Jumanji outlanders arrive in the jungle they are not themselves. Spencer has turned into a tall, bald guy (Dwayne Johnson) with Arnie's body, circa 1982. Fridge (Kevin Hart) has not changed colour, but instead of 6'3" he is now 5'4" and a loudmouth. Bethany (Jack Black) is more upset that she's lost her phone than turning into a fat middle aged man with a beard. Martha (Karen Gillan) is so used to being ignored that she can't quite get the hang of her Jumanji persona which is a combination of Jet Li and Wonder Woman.

The film is not supposed to be scary in the way that Jurassic Park was. It is entertaining, adventurous and funny, certainly not a mental whiteout as expected. The enjoyment comes from Johnson's comic timing and Black's attempt at portraying a girl under the skin. Hart likes to impersonate early Eddie Murphy in all his movies. It doesn't work so well here because Fridge is an intellectual disaster and Hart is smart'n'sharp. As for Gillan, the never to be forgotten assistant to Matt Smith's Dr Who, she stuns with her athletic prowess. Once the self effacing Martha wakes up to the fact that she's a tall red haired kick boxette, capable of wiping out the opposition with Ang Lee style wire work, she steals the day.

The ending is a bit lame but who cares when the body of the work has a smiley face.

Reviewed on: 21 Dec 2017
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Four teenagers are swept into a dangerous jungle with the help of a magic board game where they become different grown up people and are chased by big creatures and bad men.

Director: Jake Kasdan

Writer: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Rhys Darby, Bobby Cannanale, Nick Jones, Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Ser'Darius Blain, Morgan Turner, Marin Hinkle, Tracey Bonner

Year: 2017

Runtime: 119 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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