Nobody asked for a “Jumanji” sequel. I do not remember the film being particularly good — apart from Robin Williams, of course. But in the age of sequels and remakes and remakes of sequels, what is the point of creating an entirely new intellectual property when you can rehash an old one?
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is basically just a rehash of the 1995 film, except this time, it is a video game rather than a board game — in order to keep it timely. To quote literally the second line of dialogue in the film, “Who plays board games anymore?”
Every detail in the film seems to revolve around making the “Jumanji” franchise — I use the word “franchise” here with the expectation that there will be a sequel or two — fresh and exciting. You know, what the “kids these days” are into. The problem is, I do not think that the writing and production team actually consulted any “kids these days.” So every attempt comes off as the cinematic equivalent of your grandfather wrapping a cardboard box with an “X” drawn on it and giving it to you for Christmas, saying “I knew you wanted an Xbox!”
On top of that, every single character is a trope. You can build a pretty accurate profile of the cast with these quick descriptions: the nerdy guy who plays video games; the jock; the shy, smart girl who hates everyone; and the self-absorbed popular girl who takes selfies all the time. Sounds just like high school, right?
These tropes are set in four expository scenes, and the characters do not move out of their boundaries right up until the point they do. What I mean to say is that the character development is incredibly contrived. The popular girl just stops being self-absorbed. There is no buildup. She just casually makes a 180-degree turn in terms of personality. The jock is still a jock, but he is friendlier. And of course, the shy, smart girl and the nerdy guy get together. Who could have seen it coming?
All that being said, it is still somewhat of an enjoyable movie — in an immature, I’m-fourteen-and-this-is-deep kind of way. The jokes are still funny when they do not stem from driving a trope or cliche to their breaking points. The action is good — I never tire of watching The Rock absolutely destroying people in fights. But most of the “good” moments in the film are so separate from the story and characters that the film just passes them by. The ending is so cliche that even the metaphors I was going to use to describe it were cliche.
Suffice it to say, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is not worth that much — maybe give it a watch when it comes to DVD or streaming services. As for me, I got what I wanted out of it, which was a film with a lot of faults that I could easily rip into.