Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson are kings of the jungle in this Jumanji reboot of the 1995 film


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ★★★

Jake Kasdan’s sequel to 1995’s Jumanji seems about 20 years too late, especially after the untimely passing of that film’s star, Robin Williams, a few years ago. But rather than a direct continuation, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is more of a reboot. Rather than catch up with Kirsten Dunst’s Judy Shepherd or Bonnie Hunt’s Sarah Whittle, we’re introduced to an entirely new cast of high school-aged characters—nerdy video gamer Spencer (Alex Wolff), football player Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), shy wallflower Martha (Morgan Turner) and self-possessed beauty Bethany (Madison Iseman)—each who end up in detention, which is where they encounter a dust-covered copy of Jumanji. No longer a board game, writer and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg’s creation has been transformed into a ’90s-era video game. When they select their characters after booting up the 16-bit cartridge, they’re transported to a magical, deadly jungle that looks a lot like Hawaii—only they inhabit new bodies, which is where the film derives much of its humor. Spencer has been transformed into a muscle-bound adventurer played by Dwayne Johnson, Fridge is now a much shorter (and hyper) zoologist played by Kevin Hart, Martha is a Lara Croft-like badass played by Karen Gillan and Bethany has become, well, Jack Black. A little body-swapping goes a long way as our heroes must learn to work together if they’re to survive the deadly game before losing the last of their three lives. Lacking the surrealist highs of the original, it’s nevertheless a pleasant diversion. (At Assembly RowBoston CommonFenwaySouth Bay and in the suburbs.)


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