After last year's Central Intelligence, the pairing of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are re-teaming for this year's not-so-much-a-reboot-but-a-sequel(?) to 1995's JumanjiJumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Part-Breakfast Club, part-Spy Kids 3: Game Over, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle plays on the familiar story of the 1995 classic that starred the late Robin Williams (there are even a few nice nods to the original). When four teenagers find themselves stuck in detention together, they uncover an old video game - by the name of 'Jumanji' - whilst there. They decide to play the game to pass the time, but, in doing so, they get sucked into its world - embodying the avatars they selected: Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson); Franklin "Moose" Finbar (Kevin Hart); Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan); Professor Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black). And so we have a movie. And a pretty passable one of those too.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is by no means extraordinary. It's a concept we've seen before and the film brings nothing new to the table; as far as storytelling goes, it hits all of the beats you'd expect a story like this to. Jumanji excels in having its A-list cast play against-type characters - well, Johnson and Black do anyway (the former is supposed to a shy, small teen embodying this muscular tough-guy and the latter is a popular teen girl in the body of Jack Black) - and it's pretty amusing to watch for a while. The pair bring a lot of heart to these characters, as does an always-impressive Karen Gillan - who makes the most of a very underwritten female character. In fact, all of the characters are pretty bland. The novelty of the fun performances makes for some enjoyable viewing but, in the long run, we just don't care for these characters and there's no stakes and investment into the proceedings and all the action as a result. As for Kevin Hart, he's a fine addition to this cast that has a pretty good dynamic but it's the usual, pretty grating Hart schtick we're used to seeing from any Kevin Hart performance ever.

The thing with Jumanji is, it's a film that is amusing enough. It's big and loud and mind-numbing and the concept is cool and the cast is pretty solid. But there's nothing beneath the surface; it's a fairly thin film in its screenplay; it's a film that lacks any depth or maturity or nuance - there are more jokes that misfire than there are ones that land; the characters feel paper-thin; the film is riddled with plot-holes; there's a lack of any tension or suspense or anything really, thus making it feel all too inconsequential and fluffy. The antagonist is also typical-blockbuster-antagonist fare - think MCU or DCEU and you're on the right track - and all of his scenes really feel so misplaced, grinding the film to a halt whenever they come and making for a film that feels choppy and poorly paced - it's all over the place in terms of its story, making up its own rules as it goes along. There is certainly enjoyment to be had with the novelty of Welcome to the Jungle; it's a competent enough watch, but one that is also fairly bland and pretty forgettable - held together only by its concept and the charisma of its stars. Honestly though, you'd be better off just revisiting the classic. 

VERDICT:
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is an amusing enough "popcorn flick", albeit one that's pretty forgettable and bland. 

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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