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MORTAL ENGINES (December 8, 2018)

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

DVD Of The Week: Jumanji - Welcome To The Jungle (2017)


Four teenagers (a cowardly geek, an academic nerd, a self-obsessed socialite, and a shallow jock) are given detention and tasked with cleaning out an old storeroom at their school.

There they discover an old video game - Jumanji - and end up being magically transported into the game.

In the world of Jumanji, the high school kids have become the avatars they chose to play - who happen to be the antithesis of their real-world personas: the coward becomes a heroic adventurer (Dwayne Johnson), the nerd becomes a kick-ass martial artist (Karen Gillan), the jock becomes the put-upon sidekick (Kevin Hart), and the image-driven 'pretty girl' becomes a middle-aged, overweight dude (Jack Black).

To escape the game, they have to finish it - without losing all their lives (they each begin with three) - by returning a sacred crystal to its rightful resting place and breaking the curse that has fallen over the land.

A worthy sequel to the original Jumanji movie, Welcome To The Jungle begins with the magical boardgame transforming itself into a videogame cartridge, then takes the ideas of the first movie and runs with them in a virtual environment.

This isn't a direct copy of the first movie, being more akin to an action-adventure spin on The Breakfast Club, as each of the players discovers their real strengths through co-operative gameplay.

The script has great fun with video game tropes - such as the non-player characters with a limited range of responses, and the whole idea of 'respawning'.

A solid eight out ten, the film's a good, wet-Sunday-afternoon, piece of escapist fare. Relentlessly action-packed and humorous, I was also surprised how emotional the story was in the end... not something I was expecting from a film based on a (fictional) video game.

Welcome To The Jungle isn't perfect though: the animals look very CGI (but then it is supposed to be a video game, I guess); the main villain (Bobby Cannavale's Van Pelt) is ill-defined and two-dimensional; and - the biggest plot hole that I could see - it's never explained how the Jumanji video game got from the "Freak House" (where we first encounter it) to the school storeroom.

However, overriding all these shortcomings are the stellar performances of the central cast, who are wholly convincing portraying hormone-driven teenagers in video-generated adult bodies.

And, yes, Karen Gillan in shorty-shorts...

4 comments:

  1. I really had no desire to see this one, but you make some good points (especially Karen Gillan in shorty-shorts).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It’s no classic - but it’s heaps of fun.

      Delete
  2. I was stunned how well it did in the theater and didn't see it until last month. I was pleasantly surprised. Liked it better than the first one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Surprise seems to be the general reaction ;-)

      Delete

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MORTAL ENGINES (December 8)

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