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January 1, 2018

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) --- "Wild Animals Attack A Rock, A Girl Turns Into A Man, And Mosquitoes Are Deadly. Find Out How They Beat The Game."

Plot Summary
Four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game's jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose. What they discover is that you don't just play Jumanji - you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they'll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves - or they'll be stuck in the game forever. (1

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Jumanji (1996) is a classic childhood film of mine and while it is not the greatest film of all time, I never thought they would make a sequel film. Jumanji was originally meant to be a one-hit wonder, despite teasing for a sequel at the film’s end. After the death of Robin Williams from the original film, there were many valid concerns about whether a sequel would be worthy enough to be its own film as well as pay tribute to the original film. In order to do a Jumanji sequel the director, writers, and actors have to be brave enough to evolve the story rather than just rehash the same story, and this is exactly how Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) is done.

     The evolution of Jumanji from board game to video game is a sensible and creative way to deliver a sequel two decades later. It makes sense that the game would evolve. First, there is no way that everything that happened to the characters in the first film would have worked in this film; it could not have happened without possibly the government finding out or it not being caught on a camera. Second, nowadays video games are more immersive so the idea that the characters fall into the game makes sense. Third, the game evolved in order to attract new players because it’s one of the only ways kids today will play it.
     The story covers similar aspects that other teen films tend to cover. In particular, the stereotypical story about a group of high school students, with almost nothing in common, are now being forced to work together, correct each other’s flaws, and hopefully return to their ‘normal’ lives as better people. The jokes are nonstop and witty, and while they do repeat a joke or two, it never oversteps that fine line of being annoying. The funniest part of the film is the body switching.
     The idea of the teenagers being sucked into the game and having to play it out as the avatars they chose, avatars that are the total opposite of their everyday selves makes for an amusing and laughter filled film. Characters are well developed with adult actors, who have well-known character types of their own, portraying characters that are the physical and personality opposite of their persona. The actors are great in it, including a few cameos that were unexpected. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Fate of the Furious) has been playing the same ‘macho-man, expected hero’ character for a while so it was nice to see him shine in this film as a scared and nerdy teenager with no confidence. Kevin Hart (Central Intelligence) as a shrunken jock turned sidekick with many assigned weaknesses is classic. Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy) is adorable and awkwardly funny as the socially awkward nerdy girl turned ‘Killer of Men.’ Jack Black (School of Rock, Nacho Libre) playing a self-obsessed popular girl is hysterical and sometimes hard to watch because it’s so funny. Nick Jonas (Scream Queens) was also great as a supporting character in the film but I was always expecting for him to come out with some sort of twist.

    Overall, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) is a continuation of the original film without being a reboot or a B-movie. This is the perfect kind of film to take the whole family to see and it’s much better than expected. The game has evolved and so has the film as it leads audience members on a good old-fashioned adventure full of action and plenty of humor for the whole family to love. The characters are well developed with each person playing a physical opposite of their persona outside of Jumanji. The pace of this film is fast and there is a small scene that pays a little homage to Alan Parrish (Robin Williams), from the 1996 film. Although the story is a bit predictable, this in no way makes the film any less entertaining.

"NO! I'm an over-weight middle-aged man. Wait a second. Where's my phone?"
- Professor Shelly Oberon [as Bethany, seeing her reflection]

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  8 of 10 stars

I hope you liked this post, subscribe to my blog via email HERE, send in your comments, and watch Jumanji 2 (2017).

Movies Similar 
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D (2005)
Bedtime Stories (2008)
Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
Goosebumps (2015)
Hugo (2011)
Jumanji (1995)
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
Monster House (2006)
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (2007)
Night at the Museum (2006)
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014)
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Zathura (2005)

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