Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle  is a modern approach to the popular Jumanji from 1995 that starred Robin Williams. But this time, instead of a few kids sitting around a classic board game, we are given some cookie cutter high schoolers who plug into a video game. This is actually better than it sounds with Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black leading the way for this cast.
Writing Credits: Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers were at the head of the story and screenplay of this Jumanji film. It is no surprise that the guys behind Spider-Man: Homecoming and The LEGO Batman Movie delivered a surprisingly fun film and a modern vision that I did not expect to work out at all. It is not breaking news that Hollywood typically goes through several remakes over a year and the announcement of Jumanji getting a remake was not on anyone’s wish list. Jumanji is written with gusto as McKenna and Sommers made the film self-aware for older fans and fun enough for most ages to experience the adventure. However, without the comedic timing and teamwork of this cast, it is uncertain how effective the majority of the writing would have been.
Classic Body Swap: First, placing the stereotypical teenage girl who is obsessed with herself and her phone inside the body of Jack Black will go down as the comedic play of 2017. It is hilarious. Then placing the confident and strong jock into Kevin Hart’s body was even more of a contradiction. Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan also deliver as they transform two squeaky nerds. Jumanji is a great body swap. The adult leads really have to make their own interpretations of the teens they are supposed to be as we really do not get a lot of characteristics from the teens other than the stereotypes that are well known.
Not Enough Atmosphere: Jumanji delivered a funny body swap with great performances. But it did not deliver the aspects of a Jumanji video game film. There were some snakes and some jaguars. A couple rhinos. But where is the rest of this massive jungle? Where is the safari element? Our characters have life bars and avatar strengths. The film has some humorous NPCs. But where are all the other fun video game references? Jumanji could have been on the list of great video game based movies and even the list of good remakes but instead, it is just a funny body swap. There are only so many body swap jokes to be made before I remember that it has been 20 minutes since I have seen a jungle animal or heard a gaming quip.
Some Wasted Time: Along with Jumanji not having enough of the anticipated atmosphere, it runs a bit long. This is due to several scenes focusing on potential romances or confrontations based on high schooler issues. These are uninspired moments and only contribute to an ending that is more predictable than the taste of ice water.