By Jordan Brown, Asst. Section Editor
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” debuted in theaters last month and it, surprisingly, lives up to the original 1995 classic.
Directed by Jake Kasdan, this is the second film of the series and puts a vintage twist on the way the main characters, kids in high school, get sucked into the game by appearing to the kids as an old video game console.
The cast perfectly balances huge celebrities like Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Nick Jonas and Jack Black.
Karen Gillian, known for her role as Amy Pond in the sci-fi series Doctor Who and Gamora’s sister Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy, somehow makes the awkward and at times crass personality of the school genius fit almost seamlessly with the physically attractive appearances of her character, Ruby Roundhouse.
Jumanji being his third serious film role, Jonas surprisingly keeps up with film veterans like Johnson, Black and Gillian. His character had been stuck in the game for close to 20 years until the other teenagers came along and inducted him into their group to get out of the game.
The younger cast members, like Alex Wolff and Madison Iseman, also deserve some recognition even though they were only in the film to provide exposition and tie the film in a nice bow.
Unlike the first film of the series, “Welcome to the Jungle” caters more to the teenage audience by including things like classic high school stereotypes, video games and humorous moments.
The first Jumanji is one of my favorite films, and, in my opinion, Robin Williams could never be replaced. Instead of disrespecting the first film, “Welcome to the Jungle” pays homage to the 1995 classic in ways on and off the screen. If you look close enough, Williams’ character’s name is carved into a tree that Jonas stands next to in one of the scenes.
The caliber of acting from the big-billed stars like Johnson and Black gives the film a humorous element while still maintaining the seriousness and gravity of the situation they’ve gotten themselves into: something that only a handful of movies have pulled off perfectly.
Johnson portrays the video game version of one of the main characters so well that you kind of miss him when they complete the game. He keeps the weak, nerdy pushover personality of his teenage counterpart in his hulking frame, which makes for a lot of laughs throughout the entire movie. Eventually, he comes to embrace his new physical body and even prefers it to his real body (which makes for a bit of a problem). Being forced into the role of the leader of the group, Johnson doesn’t completely lose his teenage personality while trekking through the dangerous Jumanji.
Jack Black makes an explosive reappearance on the big screen after being gone for almost a year. He makes for the funniest character in the movie, his teenage counterpart being the queen bee whose biggest worries is chipping a nail. It takes a bit for her to become accustomed to being trapped in Jack Black’s body. but the movie gets even better when she finally does.
“Welcome to the Jungle” makes bold new strokes with everything it does, like dialogue and societal norms, while staying close to the foundations of the 1995 movie.