‘Jumanji’: welcome to boredom



“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” directed by Jake Kasdan, has received a 76 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was released on Dec. 20, 2017 and has an overall box office of $666.2 million as of press time.

CLINTON OLSASKY, Executive Editor | [email protected]

Marketed as a stand-alone sequel to the original 1995 film starring Robin Williams, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” shares little in common with its predecessor in terms of tone, story or characters.

The new film centers on four high school students who are magically transported into the world of Jumanji, which has now taken the form of a classic video cartridge, rather than the antiquated board game from the first movie.

Sadly, that’s where the reinvention stops, as “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” almost immediately devolves into a predictable and uninspiring series of poorly conceptualized set pieces that offer little in the way of innovation or even entertainment.

To be sure, the film’s talented cast of comedic heavy hitters do provide isolated moments of genuine humor, but beyond that, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” simply falls short.

Directing: 2/5

Directed by Jake Kasdan (“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” “Bad Teacher”), “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” evidently takes some major visual cues from many of the big-budget comedy films of the past decade.

As a result, Kasdan’s film rarely ever breaks from conventional Hollywood shot structure, opting almost exclusively for traditional shot/reverse shot compositions that, while effective when used wisely, quickly become visually monotonous and repetitive.

When it comes to the many action sequences that comprise the bulk of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” Kasdan also fails to deliver the goods due to an overreliance on quick cuts and nonsensical editing that ultimately distract and disorient from the combat on screen.

If there is any saving grace to this film in terms of its visual style, it is that the virtual world of Jumanji is truly breathtaking at times, complete with lush jungles, rolling hills and towering mountains — not to mention the many wild animals that inhabit the magical game.

However, this sense of grandeur and spectacle is quickly lost as a result of the harshly synthetic look of the film.

Indeed, the overuse of CGI and the lack of practical effects is a true detriment to a film that constantly begs its viewers to suspend their disbelief.

Writing: 2/5

Now, certain credit should be given to “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” for its efforts to reinvent and adapt by not only transforming the titular board game to a video game, but by also incorporating new characters, environment and humor.

However, that’s where the originality ends.

Outside of a few moments of genuine humor, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” struggles to stand out as anything more than just another cookie cutter action film.

Again, in addition to the poorly executed action sequences, the plot itself fails to reinvent, as nearly all of the characters featured in “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” rarely rise above the one-dimensional archetypes they so obviously resemble.

So, yes, the plot is mind-numbingly formulaic, and the characters are one-dimensional.

But most importantly, this new “Jumanji” fails because it is unable to convey any real sense of depth to its painfully obvious one-note story — ironically, unlike its predecessor.

While not a cinematic achievement by any means, the original “Jumanji” was an enjoyable family action comedy that, although flawed, did possess an undeniable charm that this modern-day iteration simply lacks.

Acting: 2/5

As previously mentioned, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” does benefit from a talented cast, and nearly all of the principal actors are provided ample time to flex their comedic muscles.

Still, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” doesn’t provide enough belly laughs to make up for the predictability and unoriginality that plague the film from the outset.

With that being said, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is characteristically charismatic as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, a courageous archaeologist that insecure teenager Spencer Gilpin inhabits in the game.

Kevin Hart is the source of several memorably funny moments as Frankin “Mouse” Finbar, the game’s zoologist, who, for better and worse, resembles little more than the stand-up comic persona that Hart has meticulously crafted over his career.

However, Jack Black is the real scene stealer in the film, as he hilariously adopts the mannerisms of the ditzy and self-absorbed Bethany Walker, who unwittingly chooses the corpulent cartographer as her in-game avatar.

Overall: 2/5

“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is a mildly amusing, if not relentlessly tedious action comedy that offers nothing memorable or fresh to the Hollywood blockbuster formula.

Notwithstanding some brief comedic flashes and a couple of charismatic performances, this modern “Jumanji” is nothing more than a new skin on a bored game.