REVIEW: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

2 Star

Picture this – you’re set to go see The Greatest Showman, a hugely acclaimed, much-loved musical romp, with one of your dear friends, and maybe catch up over a few beers afterwards… Because the only thing Dry Jan about me is my drag name.

Now, picture this – said friend suggests we go see Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, because the screening times are more convenient…

The friend in question is no longer a friend. But I did drink after the screening. I also drank throughout it. Frequently.

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From the start, the sequel to Robin Williams’ Jumanji didn’t have much hope. 99% of the film’s jokes were splurged on the two minute cinematic trailer. And by “jokes”, I mean Kevin Hart shouting because he’s small, and Jack Black flailing his arms because he’s a woman trapped in a man’s body. I really need to learn what ‘joke’ means, don’t I?

And so do the screenwriters of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Following the 1995 fantasy adventure, one kid finds the iconic Jumanji board game, but it’s the 21st century – who plays board games? So, for some reason, it magically turns into a video game cartridge. Because… Deus ex machina, right? After being sucked into the game for several years, four other children come across the video game. Can you guess what’s gonna happen to them?!

The four children are as follows: a geeky boy and a geeky girl – you know they’re geeks, because one is Jewish and has allergies, and the other prefers academia to sport. EW. FUCK OFF, NERDS. BARE NERDY. YOU CAN’T EAT NUTS OR PLAY GOLF. P.U. BOFF-ALERT.

The other two children are a cool boy and a cool girl – you know they’re cool, because one plays sport and the other is blonde and takes selfies. The Fonz is shitting himself in his grave… Which is worrying, because the dead shouldn’t be able to poo. QUICK. Someone dig him out.

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After being sucked into the game, they’re transformed into video game stereotypes. If you were expecting high-brow satire, may I suggest you watch ANYTHING else instead? Heck, watch this…

Dwayne Johnson seems to be a lovable bloke, but not even his charm can save this – his character is strong and raises an eyebrow; the one think The Rock built his fame off of. You thought it was disgusting Greta Gerwig was pied off for the Golden Globe for Best Director? With acting like Dwayne’s, it’s an outcry he didn’t win an award. Karen Gillan plays a gaming embodiment of the nerdy girl, who doesn’t know how to flirt and just, groan, fumbles and flails, because while she has book smarts, she doesn’t know men. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s been in every bad movie ever. Kevin Hart is there because he’s contractually obliged to be within a foot of The Rock at all times, and he brings very little* to the plot. (*Pun intended.) The only saving grace is Jack Black, who fully camps up his role, but after about two lines, his delivery becomes tiresome.

And then there’s the villain of the piece. He’s similar to Lord Voldemort. Not in that he’ll be recognised as a fictional baddy throughout time, but because he shan’t be named. Mainly because he’s not memorable enough to have one. He chases the protagonists so he can get a stone and rule heavily-CGI animals. That’s it. Meh. And I care why? Let this geezer take control of a flamingo. Does – does that bother me? I have rent to pay. (Well, okay, my parents have rent to pay, but they moan to me about that all the time.) And – SPOILER ALERT for anyone who manages to make it through Jumanji – the villain explodes into a pile of mice and snakes, as if they were controlling this fleshy human sack. I don’t know what the screenwriters were smoking, but I want some… So I can report it to the authorities. I’m a stand-up guy.

Nick Jonas is also in it. Whatever. I don’t even need to explain why that’s not great.

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While I understand Jumanji was set in a video game, the film itself didn’t need to be structured as one. For the entire runtime in the jungle, each scene is set as a level. “We’re here. Now we’re here. Now we’re here, never to talk about anything that’s happened before.” Frankly, some of the ‘levels’ are boring. The first one saw a hippo as a threat… Just don’t go near it? And some levels had promise to be bad-ass, but fell flat. Take Karen Gillan’s empowering fight sequence, set to Big Mountain’s Baby I Love Your Way. This had the potential to mirror the likes of Kingsman’s fight-sequences, but the choreography saw Karen sort of punch a few baddies as they flopped around her. We wanted hoards of villains, and explosions and improvised set-pieces to crumble around them. At least it only happened the once. Until it happened again. To the same music. Equally as disappointing. Just like any date with me. (But ladies, please still swipe right.)

As expected from the trailer, it was going to be a bit crap. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle struggles to find what it should be. Is it a children’s film? The computer generated animals and Kevin Hart flailing seem to think so. But then again, the constant dick-jokes and swearing make me think otherwise. There’s very little homage to the original, and it just seems a bit lost as to whether or not it wants to follow on from Robin’s legacy, or create its own world.

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Fear not – I’ve written said friend off of my Christmas card list, and blocked his number. In fact, the only time I unblocked his number was to tell him I have seen The Greatest Showman and that he’s a massive bellend for depriving me of that so I could see Jack Black say “Instagram”.

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