The new Jumanji film seems to have come out of nowhere for me. I had only seen one preview before it released. This is another film in a long line of remakes, reboots, and sequels that often come with the packaged question about whether Hollywood has lost its creativity or not.
The new film sports a known cast, and I do believe these actors are in large part what is causing the film to be a success. Further, this time around we go inside the world of Jumanji instead of having the real world become chaotic. What this means immediately is that the settings are more lavish, and we get larger set pieces in exotic environments. Visually, the film looks strong.
Part of the gimmick this time around is that four teenagers are sucked into the game during detention and find themselves in new bodies. We have fairly obvious transformations—the geek becomes the Rock, the vapid teenage girl becomes Jack Black, and so forth. Jumanji has become a video game, and we get a bit of discussion of what it means to be inside of a game. They encounter NPCs who can only given them scripted lines as they try to
The film becomes enjoyable once we get inside of the game, but before then we have obnoxious teenagers being obnoxious. I didn’t care about these kids, and I don’t think we are supposed to. Instead, we are given archetypes that can be turned upside down once inside the game. While these moments are certainly given less time, they do bracket the beginning and end of the film, which imbalances the entire experience.
Further, the film isn’t exactly consistent in the way it chooses to tell its story. The video game elements are more or less dropped (aside from points of plot convenience) and we get standard action fare. Sure, the action is enjoyable, but it isn’t quite memorable either. I suppose the best part of this film is also what will force it to stay in mediocrity: it refuses to take itself seriously and simply wants you to have fun. I believe it is successful in this attempt, but with how little I actually have to say about it you can probably tell how shallow the fun is. 6/10