Seems like Hollywood is still out of ideas and digging up hit classics to sell—this time the 1995 fantasy-adventure “Jumanji” starring the late Robin Williams.
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is a sequel—after 22 long years. It picks up where the original left off: the Jumanji board game half-buried in the sand. And some kid discovering it.
The sequel makes a convenient transition with the board game morphing into a ’90s video-game cartridge and magically sucks in four stereotype-teens into its world: a jungle. The rule? Finish the game or die for real.
The four modern-day teens comprise of the nerd Spencer (Alex Wolff), the jock Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), popular girl Bethany (Madison Iseman) and wallflower Martha (Morgan Turner). Once inside the video game, they transform into adults in the form of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan.
Our team of heroes must save the jungle from the mandatory villain (Bobby Cannavale), whose characteristic is solely marked by animals and insects crawling in and out of his body orifices. Armed with video-game skills and three lives, the four are still teens at heart, and their journey to saving the jungle while trying to stay alive also becomes a trip to self-discovery.
Written by over five writers and directed by Jake Kasdan, “Welcome to the Jungle” is for adolescent kids wanting to kill time in the cinemas. Focusing on gags, relying on star status and modern-day visual effects rather than on a rich adventure story, it is sporadically funny but overall bland and shallow. It’s more of a family-friendly “SNL” skit than a real adventure film.
When a story is predictable (of course none of them will die), you depend on the details for entertainment. But the game obstacles are pretty lame; no thrill, jump scares or suspense. Hart and Black are sometimes funny (sometimes corny), and Johnson is pretty charming, if not sometimes corny.
“Welcome to the Jungle” is more comedy sketch than adventure, eliciting intermittent chuckles and is mildly amusing in its small cute moments. But with such threadbare characters and lack of fun and interesting twists and turns in the game, and severe lack of originality, it’s totally forgettable. Another inconsequential sequel.
2 out of 5 stars
In Philippine cinemas January 8, 2018.