Robin Williams passed away but he left behind a lot of gems for us to admire. One of them is his 1995 fantasy adventure film Jumanji. Jumanji is one of the first films I owned in home media collection. I have watched Jumanji countless number of times as a child. Whenever someone asks me, “what do you want to watch?” I say “Jumanji”. The film has its flaws and cheesy moments but it makes up for the fun I have had.
2010s saw a rise in the number of remakes and reboots. A lot of them have desecrated, from the mediocre sequels Terminator genisys / Independence day 2 to 2017 disaster named Mummy. Then, they announced a sequel AKA reboot of the Jumanji. I went nuts. Why not leave every beloved film alone? Hollywood is seemingly running out of ideas. The only factor that kept me curious is Dwayne Johnson. He is a fun actor to watch who makes every scene worthwhile with dry sense of humor and big-guy charisma. And, the trailer looked very interesting.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed the film. It is better than I expected while in fact, I had no great expectations in the first place. That is what you need to do first of all, shed your expectations.
Unlike the original which is about how characters from the board game is brought to real life, here we have 4 kids get sucked into the game as those characters they chose. Dwayne Johnson played the nerd Spencer who is transformed into a heavily built masculine being with no weaknesses. He nailed in those scenes where he pretends to be tough but then, he becomes scared and tries to console himself. He talks and acts like a nerd while being all “Rock”.
Jack black is plays a hilarious character. A teenage girl named Bethany, who is self obsessed and narcisstic, who don’t every chance she gets to take a selfie and Instagram it, chooses a character named “Shelley” after seeing “curvy” in the description. Well, as it turns out, Shelley is “he”, a middle aged man. Well, usually when men play a female or feminine character, they tend to exaggerate the girlishness and “softness”. We see that in several Hollywood and Indian films which is quite ludicrous as it only reflects how men see women. I kind of expected the same from Jack Black. Thankfully, it was neither exaggerated nor made ludicrous. He captured the body language of a teen girl trying to be tough and rebellious; with crooked smile, hands on the hips and straight lined walks. Bethany initially starts off admiring Spencer and his built. I liked Jack’s reaction when Dwayne punches a guy and sends him flying, where he says “that was insane!“. However later on, after seeing Martha (Karen Gilian) take down two heavily built men, Bethany begins to admire her, sees as hero, and becomes motivated, clearly reflecting how strong female characters motivate teenage girls. Plus the movie didn’t stick to “girls-don’t-get-along-well” notion when we see Martha and Bethany complimenting one another. That is a welcoming move. Karen Gilian is flexible and her role is mostly physical. She is apt for her part.
This is the first performance of Kevin Hart’s I am witnessing. He is hilarious and turns little moments hilarious. I have laughed uncontrollably at several jokes from him, notably the scene where explains animal characteristics to others and then go, “how do I know it?”. Kevin and Dwayne has good bromance chemistry. I wish he had more to do in the film apart from having dialogues. Plus, the film resorted to stereotyping of Black character who are talkative and loud.
The sound effects were great, we will feel like we are in the jungle. The production design team succeeded in making the environment look unnatural within natural world. The action sequences are presented in an enthralling way, there is suspense and thrills until the end. Plus, the humane development of the characters makes this film. And, we get to see Nick Jonas in a role that’s different his character is supposed to the breakpoints but then if you watch the film from the beginning then it understood that he is presented like Alan Parrish.
Jumanji 2 is a fun movie. It is nowhere close to the spirit and essence of the original film and no one comes anywhere close Robin Williams. But they have managed to craft a good comedy advanture that is worth viewing.