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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

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If you’re of a certain age, you will likely have memories of Jumanji from 1995, in which Robin Williams had to deal with various animals erupting from a board game. Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle pulls off the impressive feat of acknowledging the original film while also stamping out its own identity. This is partly due to the reversal that Jake Kasdan’s sequel/relaunch performs, in which the central characters are sucked into the video game version of Jumanji. Jungle japes ensue, to very funny effect, as animals attack and game challenges present themselves. The film also delivers on the character front, as the four protagonists are a Breakfast Club type collection of high school archetypes, yet written with enough care and affection that they develop in unexpected and effectively human ways. The central performers are a great bunch, in each case playing against type in ways that are not only funny and dramatic, but also raise interesting questions about the nature of identity. Highlights include Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) ‘smouldering’, as well as Bethany (Jack Black, yes, really!) teaching Martha (Karen Gillan) to flirt. Parts of their characteristics are programmed by the game, but the central fours also maintain their teenage identities and sense of self. This creates intriguing tensions: how much of who you are is constituted by your body, how much by your experience and how much by your social role? By posing these questions but never allowing them to overwhelm the adventure, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is the most enjoyable type of blockbuster – one with brains and heart to match its thrills and spills.

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1 Comment

  1. […] Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle […]

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