Jumanji … Minus Robin Williams

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle


With Hollywood currently being obsessed with remaking old films to make them relevant to us millennials, it was only a matter of time before Sony Pictures Entertainment threw their hat into the ring. While some may claim that it’s a sequel, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle seems like the 1995 classic with a new coat of paint and a new cast, minus Robin Williams. Does this film hold a torch to the original or will it get caught in a quicksand of special effects and current stars?

Story: If there’s one thing I can say to prove that this film is certainly not a sequel is that its story does take primary plot points from the original; the Jumanji game gets in the hands of an oblivious young man who gets sucked in, followed by a couple of kids befalling the same fate with this older person helping them out decades later occurring again in this film. However, there’s a major difference here: the Jumanji game is a video game in which the characters act as a new cast of colorful personas with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. This spin on the concept of a cursed game brings a ton of action, fun, and adventure to this version. While this fresh new concept spices up the story to keep audiences on their toes, it enters a pitfall in the form of a formulaic “level progression” plot. This doesn’t cripple the film entirely though, as it throws the cast into a variety of interesting locales and situations with plenty of action and humor to spare. If there was one other flaw with this film’s story it’s the unfortunate cheesiness of some of the more heartfelt moments that makes character development feel more pasted on rather than being an integral part of the story. This element scores 4/5.

Characters: In terms of characters, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is fairly satisfactory. The characters themselves, at least at the start of the film, are all stereotypes, with Spencer being the awkward nerd, Fridge being the jock, Martha being the shy girl who has a crush on the lead male character, and Bethany as popular girl. However as the film progresses, some good character development occurs, such as as the characters having cheesy heart-to-heart conversations with one another and learning through the experiences they have. This allows them to become a bit more than just stereotypes while being memorable at the same time. In terms of side characters, only one really stuck out to me: the main antagonist Russel Van Pelt; a revised version of the original Van Pelt character. Van Pelt was a great combination of creepy and menacing, something very akin to Judge Doom in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Characterization scores a 3.5/5.

Performances/Writing: By far this film’s strongest suit is its brilliant performances and really funny writing. If there’s one thing this film has the upperhand on the 1995 original is its star studded cast that brought along talented actors like Kevin Hart and Jack Black. The actors brought along a great amount of energy that help make the somewhat lacking characters become memorable and the sharp writing become even funnier, even with the lack of Robin Williams. By far the most impressive element of this film was the fact that the personalities of the characters were both portrayed well by their real world and Jumanji counterparts. The script, while occasionally resorting to low-brow humor, has some really clever moments that had me laughing out loud! On a side note, I never realized until now that Jack Black performing as a teenage girl was something I needed in my life until now. The element scores a 5/5.

Special Effects: Overall, the special effects were satisfactory throughout the film. The various explosions and CGI animals all looked real and not visually taxing on the eyes. My only complaint were the fairly strange looking CGI jaguars, but other than that, it was pretty good. This element scores a 4.5/5

Overall score: 4.25/5 or an 8.5/10. While Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle wasn’t perfect, it was an extremely enjoyable film that can hold a candle to the original. The spot on performances and fresh take on the already clever concept made this film worthy of its score. I would recommend both fans of the first film and those who’d never seen it before to go watch it. You will not be disappointed. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a welcome addition to the cinema and Sony’s collection of features.