Even though the movie was heavily panned by the critics (it has a score of 39 out of 100 from Metacritic.com and 50 out of 100 from Rotten Tomatoes) the audience loved it and it is considered as an all-time classic.
Moreover, it made a massive amount of money in the worldwide box-office by earning an estimated $262,797,249 with a budget of $50 000 000.
That is why, it is always a risky business to touch on such an insanely successful movie, adored by millions of fans around the world.
When the idea of remaking ‘Jumanji’ was initially put on the table, there were tons of negative comments under Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s posts on the social media.
Most of the folks out there were afraid that the WWE star turned actor and his ‘Seven Bucks Productions’ company would easily ruin the sacred action-comedy from the past.
Those fears were more than justified, especially after the bombastic failure of ‘Baywatch’ (2017), also produced and acted by Dwayne.
The fortune favors the bold, they say.
Plus, Dwayne Johnson is neither a quitter nor a coward and through the years he proved that he definitely has a place in Hollywood.
Shortly after its release, ‘Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle’ (2017) was already referred to as ‘utterly entertaining’, ‘a top-notch action-comedy’, and ‘a pleasantly surprising fun’.
On top of that, it was the second highest-grossing movie in the worldwide box-office staying closely to the often unreachable ‘Star Wars’ franchise and its installment ‘The Last Jedi’.
Not only that, but the fantasy-adventure flick received more than positive reviews both from users and critics which are even better than the scores once given to the original Jumanji movie.
By the time of this writing, ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ has a score of 7.3 out of 10 on IMDB.com based on almost 30 000 votes and its estimated earnings are close to $370 000 000.
For a reference, ‘Jumanji’ from 1995 has a score of 6.9 out of 10 and it made less money, the reason for that probably being the low ratings.
Sure enough, these are just the statistics and hate it or love it, the new Jumanji movie turned out to be a huge success.
Let’s see who is responsible for it and understand more about the flick itself.
Cast and Crew
‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ (2017) is directed by Jake Kasdan who happens to be the son of the Hollywood ace and respected filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan.
Jake is mainly known for directing the comedies ‘Bad Teacher’ (2011), ‘Sex Tape’ (2014) and ‘Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story’ (2007) and this is his first most important movie in terms of budget ($90 000 000).
The star cast is comprised of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson who plays Spencer/Dr. Xander Bravestone and the comedy specialist Kevin Hart (‘Ride Along’) as Fridge/Franklin ‘Moose’ Finbar.
They partner with the lava hot Karen Gillan (‘Selfie’) whose character is Martha/Ruby Roundhouse and the talented comedian Jack Black (‘School of Rock’) who enters in the skin of Bethany/Prof. Shelly Oberon.
The other stars who have supporting roles are Nick Jonas from the pop boy band ‘The Jonas Brothers’ who plays the exiled kid Alex and Bobby Cannavale (‘Ant-Man) who does a cool job as the villain Van Pelt.
The teen actors Alex Wolf, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, and Morgan Turner also deserve two thumbs up for their short, yet remarkable performances as the kids who are sucked up in the Jumanji game.
Speaking of that, let’s check out the plot and see how this Jumanji movie is quite different than that good old Jumanji movie.
One of the reasons for the success of ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ is the fact that this installment is not a remake but rather a stand-alone sequel to the original flick.
In that way, the creators have completely reimagined the script and the storyline doesn’t try at all to copy the events of the previous film.
In fact, the story is set 20 years after the events, happened in ‘Jumanji’ (1995), thus making the new flick a brand new adventure taking place in the game world.
Four teenagers are punished by the high-school director to clean up a lumber-room where they bump into an old video game console.
After they turn it on and chose their players, they are transported to the jungle game world of Jumanji ending up in the bodies of the avatars they have just chosen.
Spencer, Martha, Fridge and Bethany, all in adult bodies, need to overcome their differences and work together in order not just to play the game but to survive it and avoid being sucked up into the Jumanji world forever.
As the movie tagline implies, the game has evolved.
What Makes ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ So Cool to Watch?
First of all, the cast is really brilliant.
The acting is not first rate, but the four leading actors all have a serious amount of comedy talent that sparkles throughout the entire movie which unifies the adventure, the action and the comedy into one hugely entertaining ride.
Dwayne Johnson is hilarious and shows remarkable acting skills as the mousy high-school kid Spencer who now lives in the body of the tall and muscular game character – the explorer Smolder Bravestone.
Kevin Hart’s performance as the cocky teenager Fridge trapped into the body of the short zoologist Franklin Finbar delivers probably the biggest amount of fun as he literally doesn’t stop to throw laugh-out-loud lines during the whole adventure.
Karen Gillan is gorgeous as the shy teenager Martha, locked in the body of the sexy martial arts expert Ruby Roundhouse.
Her performance is also hilarious, especially in the scene in which her inexperienced with the dating character has to seduce two guards.
This one will make you shriek with laughter as the talented Karen totally steals the show.
What is most interesting to watch is Jack Black’s act.
He portrays the popular high-school chick and smartphone addict Bethany who lives in the body of the overweight male game character, the cartographer Prof. Shelly Oberon.
You can bet that Black’s performance as a teenage drama queen is fantastic and ridiculously entertaining.
When you see Jack Black the last thing you would possibly think of him to play is a teenage girl.
Well, wait until you see him as Bethany.
Second, the storyline is engaging enough to keep you interested from the start to the finish.
Don’t expect a deep and complicated plot but rather a simple, yet captivating storytelling with a witty dialogue that will make you follow the curious events with a vivid interest.
The jungle setting with its picturesque greenery and wild animals creates a very haunting ambiance that completely sucks you up in the whole adventure.
The writers were creative enough to pay homage to the late Robin Williams by putting at some point the four characters in a treehouse built by the previous player Alan Parrish (played by Williams in the previous ‘Jumanji’).
What is also cool is the team up of Spencer, Martha, Bethany and Fridge with Alex (Nick Jonas) – a teenage boy sucked up into the game 20 years ago and who is stuck in a particular game level.
The action scenes are eye-catching and there are some awesome martial arts scenes as well as Karen Gillan’s character is a martial arts expert whose strengths are the Karate, Tai Chi, Jui-Jitsu and most importantly – dance fighting.
Dwayne Johnson also delivers badass action performance by spectacularly giving justice with his huge arms and fists.
Another thing that makes ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ work so well is that the flick doesn’t take itself too seriously and that is why everything happens naturally.
Plus, it is visible that the actors have huge fun playing their roles, all being in their comfort zones.
It is like watching the cast of ‘Boone: The Bounty Hunter’ who also have great time in front of the camera.
The ending, something very important for a movie is very intense and satisfying.
The Main Flaws of The Movie
There is not much to say here, except for the teenage drama which is a bit overreacted and too much at some point.
Another thing which could have been better is related to the villain Van Pelt, played by Bobby Cannavale.
He deserved to have more screen time and the character could have been more deeply developed in order to make the battle between good and evil more tangible.
‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ (2017) is a surprisingly fun ride and it totally deserves its time and money.
The combination of action, adventure, comedy, fantasy, and drama is very well-balanced and the characters are lovable and interesting in its own way.
Already considered as one of the best movies based on a video game, the flick is a great addition to the fantasy world of Jumanji and a must-see blockbuster for every action-comedy moviegoer.
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