Opinion, Reviews

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a review

(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – For better or worse, remakes are everywhere. Rather than make original material, Hollywood now prefers to remake popular films, along with reboots and sequels. And if you hate that the studio system is doing this to classic films then maybe you shouldn’t buy tickets to see them.

However, it’s been proven many times before that not all remakes are bad, the movie “IT” for example. And recently, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” a remake that should’ve been another disaster, ended up surprising audience members.

In “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” a group of generic teenagers become trapped inside a jungle, adventure-themed video game and the only way to escape is to finish the game. For those who aren’t familiar with the source material, “Welcome to the Jungle,” is a remake of “Jumanji” from 1995 starring Robin Williams. “Welcome to the Jungle” has the same idea, but it changes the premise from a board game to a video game, which is pretty clever.

My favorite part of “Welcome to the Jungle” is that the teenage players are trapped in adult bodies, adult celebrity bodies to be specific. The scrawny, gamer guy has become Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the big jock is now Kevin Hart, the shy girl is now Karen Gillian with martial arts skills.

Jack Black, the highlight of the movie, is the popular girl. Seeing him talk like a stereotype is hilarious, along with the fact that his character doesn’t understand how the male body works.

You could argue that “Welcome to the Jungle” isn’t a remake but a sequel. It gives a few nods to the original and implies that it takes place after the original. Granted, “Welcome to the Jungle” is actually the second sequel/remake of “Jumanji” if you count “Zathura: A Space Adventure,” which has the same board game premise only set in space. It’s not a rip-off though, because both “Jumanji” and “Zathura” are based off books by Chris Van Allsburg.

I really appreciated the parts when this movie poked fun at video games. For instance, the players encounter N.P.Cs, or Non Playable Characters. These programmed characters provide little help and always give the same response no matter what question you ask. And just like in real video games, it’s annoying for the players.

I am glad this movie wasn’t just another dumb blockbuster, but it can feel like one at times. The villain, Van Pelt, is very bland. In fact, he’s so bland I feel it was almost intentional, as if they filmmakers were making fun of boring video game villains. Still, he’s boring to watch.

Not all of the jokes are that funny, but for every dull joke there is another one that works. It does have a bit of low brow humor such as fart jokes, slapstick, etc. Despite not always enjoying that kind of humor that much, the film did make me laugh from time to time. And for having a predictable plot, the character development is still effective.

“Welcome to the Jungle,” could’ve easily been another “cash grab” remake, so I’m very happy that it tried to better than it had, or was expected, to be. It’s not perfect, but neither was the original “Jumanji” either. In addition, I have heard a few people debate on which one is better, the original or the remake. While you might not agree with that claim, it’s still a good sign when a remake’s quality is being compared to the source material in a positive way. I’m not sure myself, though both are fun to watch.

If you saw the trailers and thought “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” would be a funny movie to see on the weekend, then you will get exactly what you’re looking for. It’s not a comedy classic, but it is a fun time. If that sounds like a film you would like to see, I do recommend it.

I have a question. Why is it movies about video games are good, like “Wreck It Ralph,” or “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” but video games movies, like “World of Warcraft,” “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” “Bloodrayne,” and so many more, suck? Is there some secret explanation? If so, I would like to know the answer.


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