Jumanji : Welcome to the jungle, is the un-numbered sequel to the 1995 Robin Williams film about players trapped into finishing a magic board game. The short of it is I thought this movie was fun, I laughed with it but I also cringed a bit and shook my head some times, but not enough to really put me off. It is a perfectly serviceable sequel but I will always prefer the original even with its now somewhat plastic looking CG.

You can tell this movie was meant for an older audience by its introductory cast, whereas the original was light hearted adventure with jeopardy, focusing primarily around children (Young Alan and Sarah joined by Judy and Peter) Welcome to the jungle is established with four high school teenagers, so the threats are nastier and the jokes cruder, the section about them trying to go to the lavatory much more so, but funnier given its context.


Right out the gate my biggest fear was alleviated, they did not set out to remake the original which would have been unnecessary but rather ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ follows directly on from the end of Jumanji with the board half buried in a sandy beach. Fast forward to present day a group of four teenage stereotypes are throw in detention, digging through a store room they find an old Atari style games console and hook it up. Once picking their characters they are; like Alan Parrish before, sucked into the jungles of Jumanji now presented more adventurers playground then heart of darkness Africa, but also feeling a more reminiscent of Jurassic part with its Hawaiian filming location.

The four teenagers are the weakest performances and rolls, standard teen actors playing the core stereotypes but these only book end the movie as unlike Alan, dropped in as child and left to survive the wilds, the twisted game in its new variation drops the four in the bodies of better actors pretending to the teens avatars.

Spencer the Jewish studious nerd becoming Dwayne Johnson’s hulking Smoulder Bravestone, an intense adventurer. Fridge the bulky black footballer shrining into Kevin Hearts pack mule assist Moose, Bravestones side kick. Martha the shy girl finds herself under dressed for the jungle as Lara croft stand in Ruby as portrayed by Karen Gillen, a dancing fighter. Lastly and best, Bethany the blonde selfie obsessed valley girl flumps down in the body of Jack Blacks middle age spreading Shelly Oberon, the map reader.

They mostly seem to have fun with their openly silly rolls, characters each with a unique set of skills and weaknesses that kick in whenever the situation calls for them in, to be played for laughs throughout a dangerous game where they each have only three lives.

This modernisation of the game adds some jeopardy to situations as they might not necessarily survive an encounter, only dropping out of the sky, one more chance down and closer to a final game over, some squandered on simple bickering. They could have rolled with this and like its predecessor have seriously threatened some characters only for the finale, the exit from the game resetting them to as they were before the game began, but that’s a minor point.

It runs with its game premise well, introducing non player characters who can only repeat a few pre-set lines repeatedly, and a  bazaar scene where they are prompted to get some rations ( From a  Baker familiar to anyone who’s seen ‘Too many cooks’ on Adult Swim ) and recover health before the next scene plays out. As for repetition, the films grinds on me when it feels the need to repeat story points and have the cast stop to exposit points we already know in glaringly obvious ways, it also drop us the black clad biker goons once to many.

As someone who does play video games… so many video games I had nerdy questions like why game transforms itself into an Atari style cartridge which needs to be plugged into a dusty console existing in the room of a teenager already playing on a newer PlayStation. I’d have preferred if the whole box transfigured itself into an old video game system.

Another of other missed opportunities, Van Pelt was no-where to be seen, for such a memorable part of the first movie, the hunter pursing Alan Parrish could have had at least a passing cameo in the bazaar scene, but I guess his pith helmet and blunderbuss Doc Savage explorer might have been at odds with the films later Indiana Jones motor age.


In the end, I’m happy to have seen it, it has it moments and does not detract from the original movie or attempt to re-tread it and even ends with a flat we won’t be doing this again ending, but I could happily skip the Breakfast club bits that book ends the feature.

Jumanji : Welcome to the jungle is its own beast and I am happy to let it roam.