JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
STARRING: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan DIRECTOR: Jake Kasdan IN CINEMAS: Boxing Day (PG) 119 mins VERDICT: Game over
THE original Jumanji, starring the late Robin Williams and a young Kirsten Dunst, was at the cutting edge of modern technology when it was released in 1995. Two decades on, however, the movements of the computer-animals seem curiously jerky. Even the actors appear a little wooden. All of which points to the supreme timeliness of this big-budget reboot — which enriches viewers’ experience with the detail contemporary animators are capable of.
In Welcome to the Jungle, snakes writhe, elephants wrinkle and rhinoceroses stampede.
Audiences see all the way back to the uvula of salivating hippopotamus when the creature opens his mouth to swallow Jack Black in one gulp (the fact that we don’t witness the rotund comedian’s actual demise probably has just as much to do with the film’s PG classification as it does the limitations CGI).
The giant centipedes that crawl in and out of the facial orifices of villain, John Hardin Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale), push the “ick” envelope for an all-ages audience.
The filmmakers have set out to create a genuine sense of danger in this jungle world — without actually traumatising younger viewers — and they have got the balance just right.
The original board game transforms itself into a video game in an eerie prologue that feeds back to the narrative at a later point.
A bunch of students stumble upon the new version some years later after being told to clean out their school basement.
The nerd (Alex Wolff), the jock (Ser’Darius Blain), the bookworm (Morgan Turner) and the bimbo (Madison Iseman) metamorphose, by way of their avatars and some supernatural sorcery, into muscle-bound explorer (Dwayne Johnson), his sidekick (Kevin Hart), formidable heroine (Karen Gillan) and middle-aged cartographer (Jack Black) respectively — characters that are the opposite to who they are in real life.
While Central Intelligence co-stars Johnson and Hart confirm their odd-couple comic chemistry in the sequel, Black gets the juiciest body swap material to work with as Professor Sheldon Oberon, a middle-aged man with the brain of a teenage girl.
Their task is simple — to escape the game, they must replace the jewel Van Pelt has stolen. But completing the task will test each of them in a different way.
Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart.