Released 12/20/2017 Rated: PG-13
I am such a big fan of the original movie that when I heard they were making a new one I was like “but why, though?” When the trailer released I knew this movie was going to go one of two ways: either it was going to surprise me, or it was going to be trash. I figured it’d be the latter, and resigned myself to not expect much from it. So much so that I wasn’t even planning on seeing it in theaters and figured I’d wait until it appeared on Netflix. But my cousin’s recommendation got my sister excited and we went. Guys, I don’t think I’ve had so much fun at the theater in a long time.
I loved how they switched it up this time around. Instead of the game affecting the outside world, the characters get sucked into the game’s world. I’m sick of all these retreads, sequels, and reboots that’s just the same movie over and over again. There’s nothing new or creative in doing that. Hollywood may be learning. I can appreciate the effort they put in to making this one similar but different. Fingers crossed this trend carries on. (Or better yet: come up with original content! 🙂 )
All the actors were great portraying teenagers stuck in their avatar’s bodies. The biggest complaint I’ve heard is that Kevin Hart doesn’t quite match his real world counterpart, but we don’t get much of a sense of who Fridge is. He’s a football player who’s grades are slipping, but instead of putting more effort into his school work himself, he takes advantage of a former friendship with Spencer to keep his grade afloat. He’s angry at Spencer, feeling he’s the one to blame for getting them in detention. And on top of that, his character is the complete opposite of him in real life, needing to rely on everyone else to get him out of danger. He’s seemingly useless. Even the larger cartographer runs faster than the actual football star. Of course Hart’s portrayal of the character is going to be feisty and mad. I’d be angry too!
This movie felt like a legit video game experience. They did have to explain the game mechanics a bit, but as only one of the main characters actually played video games it made sense and didn’t feel like they were going “let us explain this now!” You could follow if you weren’t familiar with video games, and it didn’t feel like they were talking down to you if you were.
My only gripe of the whole movie is that I would have liked it to feel more like the original Jumanji. There was such a variety as to what came out of the board game the first time around that the concept of strictly sticking with the jungle setting made it feel very one note. And on top of that, for a game centered around the jungle they completely forgot about including (at the very least) the demon monkeys and the man-eating vine/plant things. Literally anything could have come out of the game, that’s what made the first one so crazy, but they downplayed the actual game to make the movie about working together. Which, don’t get me wrong, I like that they included that, but it’s a shame because video games can also do just about anything. They could have still done both. Just make each level a bit more distinct and have game-centric boss at the end of each. Boom. Done.
In terms of the game-play, I expected something a little more along the lines of the Tomb Raider series with solving puzzles and deciphering clues/riddles, but this was definitely more of an action RPG. But I guess some of the intricacies of the game were lost in the transition from board to video game. Nevertheless they did a decent job with it.
This movie isn’t as magical as the first, but it’s still a good time.