Nerd Caliber
Nerd Lifestyle Magazine

TV/Movies & Music

December 20, 2017

Jumanji Sequel is a Fun Game-like Lightweight Romp


With 2017 drawing to a close, I have to admit that I haven’t seen a huge number of comedies this year. There is a big reason for this; I am a comedy snob. I have no stomach for gratuitous Happy Madison-style low brow humor, and with a number of comedic actors following the Will Ferrell method of flailing and screaming, I approach most modern comedies (especially ones with big names) with extreme prejudice.

This is exactly why I had very low expectations for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. At first glance from the promo pics it looked like it was geared solely at the lowest common denominator of viewers. With casting choices of professional scenery chewers Jack Black and Kevin Hart, and the questionable costume choice for Karen Gillan, I was so ready pan this flick before it even premiered. The trailer didn’t make it any more appealing; however, I did not end up hating this movie in spite of my initial concerns, go figure.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle follows four teenagers who are transported into the video game world of Jumanji, and, playing as the characters they chose, must beat the game in order to return to the real world.

One thing to note is that this movie is a stand-alone sequel to the 1995 film, which was done to honor the memory of the late great Robin Williams, and there are a quite a few nods throughout the film from clues left by Alan Parish (Williams’ character from the original film) within the game of Jumanji for the other players to decipher.

Director Jake Kasdan’s comedic chops shine through in this as he also helped with the screenplay, relying more on the snarky wit that put him on par with the likes of previous collaborators such as Judd Apatow.

Beefcake and cheesecake, played with a twist.

Beefcake and cheesecake, played with a twist.

The narrative was kind of bare bones; you could easily predict the route each protagonist was going to take from start to finish. But this isn’t the kind of movie you go to for an intellectually stimulating story.

The cast is for the most part hilarious. I found the actual game-playing high school cast of Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Ser’Darius Blain, and Morgan Turner ranged from somewhere between generic to okay, but I blame that on the fact that these actors were given only a small amount of screen time.

The real strength of this Jumanji lies in the star studded in-game avatars of the game-playing kids: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Nick Jonas. They had great chemistry and the movie played to each of their individual comedic strengths. The Rock has proven his knack for character acting time and time again, and does not disappoint here, Gillan’s awkward charm and wit are great, Hart and Black have some great slapstick moments, and Nick Jonas charms his way through this story as well. He has come a long way from his Disney Channel days.

Visually, I enjoyed the sets as well, they felt like something I would see in a game like Tomb Raider or Uncharted; honestly they all looked fake as all get out but they were pretty. The cinematography was decent, but again little things like the CG animals weren’t made to fool anyone watching into thinking they were real. If anything it added to the idea that this was a video game.

The soundtrack featured the intensity of the jungle drums from the original movie, with a good mix of appropriately timed top 40 songs.

This wasn’t a perfect film by any means, but it knew what it was and I had fun. This is movie is definitely not a bad way to end 2017, so I will give Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony Pictures Entertainment, 1hr 59m, PG-13) a 3.5 out of 5.

About the Author

Byron D. Zero



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