Film review: Jumanji: Welcome To the Jungle; A totally new story

Leah C. Salterio - The Philippine Star
Film review: Jumanji: Welcome To the Jungle; A totally new story

No longer a board game, the movie, starring Dwayne Johnson (left) and Nick Jonas, is an action-adventure video game that the high school teenagers discover in their school’s basement

MANILA, Philippines -  “In playing a video game, levels are going to get harder as you go along. If you used up all your lives, you die and that means, game over.”

That was easily pointed out in the story, Jumanji: Welcome To the Jungle, by the video game’s avatar, Dr. Smolder Bravestone, played by wrestling superstar and actor Dwayne Johnson. Trapped in Bravestone’s body is the nerdy Spencer (Alex Wolff), the brave, lead character in the present-day tale.

Lest viewers are expecting this one to be simply a remake of the original film, Jumanji: Welcome To the Jungle is a totally new story. More of a nostalgic sequel to the well-loved and best-remembered Jumanji tale that took place 22 years ago.

To begin with, there is no longer a board game, but an action-adventure video game that the high school teenagers discover in their school’s basement. And no, Robin Williams is totally not forgotten. In one scene in this new film, Robin’s character, Alan Parish, was somewhat given tribute when his name was seen etched in a tree trunk somewhere in the jungle that the protagonists are exploring.

As four high school students are cleaning up their school basement as a punishment, they get sucked up by the Jumanji video game. Readily, everyone is transported to a body-swapping adventure of a lifetime. Yes, replete with rhinos, elephants and snakes.

Dwayne playing a kid is not totally new to him. In his previous films such as Tooth Fairy, The Game Plan, Race To Witch Mountain or even the animated Moana, he has admirably adapted to a younger character or dealt with kiddie co-stars.

Co-star Jack Black may somewhat look in an awkward stage acting as the female Bethany (Madison Iseman), trapped in a man’s body as archaeologist Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon. Yet, he was simply hilarious. “Flirt, like our lives depend on you,” he teaches Ruby Roundhouse how to seduce like a gazelle.

Meanwhile, sultry and sexy Karen Gillian is the brave Ruby, the avatar of shy teenager Martha (Morgan Turner). Ruby gets into an embarrassing lip-locking scene with Dr. Bravestone. She was excellently kicking butts, displaying her martial arts expertise to the tune of Peter Frampton’s popular ballad, Baby, I Love Your Way, recorded by Big Mountain.

Kevin Hart plays the zoologist Franklin “Moose” Finbar, who constantly worries if he is no longer black, from the hunky football player, Fridge. Singing idol Nick Jonas lends his stellar presence to the story, as he gives life to the character of pilot Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough, whose avatar is Alex Vreeke.

The heartwarming reunion, where a grown-up Alex Vreeke, played in a cameo by Collin Hanks, meets with the high school students, came as a fitting and touching ending for Jumanji: Welcome To the Jungle.

The adventure-comedy, directed by Jake Kasdan, has grossed more than $541M to date, a solid testament to the huge box-office draw of Dwayne, the highest paid American actor to date.




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