Movie review - Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

I am a huge fan of the original Jumanji, which was released during my childhood (1995) and starred Robin Williams, one of my favorite actors. Therefore, for me, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle had huge shoes to fill. It unfortunately did not live up to its predecessor, but it does have some fun moments throughout.

Four high school students (Alex Wolff, Ser'Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, and Morgan Turner) meet when they're all sentenced to detention. When Spencer (Wolff) finds what appears to be an old video game console in the basement where they are serving their sentences, the teens decide to try it out. The game, however, is Jumanji, and it sucks them into the game itself, where they find themselves looking a little bit different than they do in real life: Bethany is a MALE cartologist (Jack Black), Spencer has huge muscles (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge has lost quite a bit of his height (Kevin Hart), and Martha (Karen Gillan) is an intrepid adventurer whose skills include "dance fighting."

The four of them, in these new bodies, must beat the game, otherwise they may never escape... and may, in fact, die trying.

The beginning of this film was actually pretty bad, and at that point I was thinking this was going to be a 1.5 or 2 star review. However, once the landscape switches over to the jungle, it gets better. My favorite character was definitely Jack Black's, because he was playing a woman in a man's body and therefore "she" was getting used to it ("Look at my penis!", with genuine surprise, is something you don't often hear in a movie...). Alex Wolff's character as Dwayne Johnson was fun, too, since he was getting used to Johnson's body type, also. In addition, Nick Jonas is in this film, as a supporting role, which was a surprise.

Maybe see this movie. Fans of the original Jumanji will be disappointed if they try to compare the two, but if you take this one as a separate entity, then you'll be mildly entertained. The film is at its best during its action scenes and when the crew is trying to escape from the jungle; the parts at the beginning and end, when the characters are in their "real life" forms, are the weakest, though the movie does have a fulfilling ending. I also liked the parts that were very video-game esque; for example, at one point, they figure out that the three lines on their arms are lives, and once they run out, it's Game Over for them. Overall, I'd recommend this movie for teens, but it's more of a summer popcorn flick versus a worthy successor to the first Jumanji film.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is in theaters on December 20th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 119 minutes. 2.5 stars out of 5.

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