A Much More Comedic Sequel
When Sony Pictures announced a sequel to the 90s family film Jumanji starring Robin Williams, it’s fair to say the reception was less than positive to this news. Acting as a direct sequel to the first film, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle reinvents itself with a fun and humorous follow up. Whilst it may not have the same lasting appeal or compelling characters the first film achieved, there’s enough here to pay homage to the first whilst offering enough originality to make this a fun but largely forgettable action adventure film.
After a brief introduction that fills in the blanks around the whereabouts of the mysterious board game Jumanji, the plot shifts forward 20 years, introducing us to four high school kids who uncover the newly revamped Jumanji disguised as a video game. What follows is an action packed ride full of explosions, humour and action as the four kids are sucked into the game, take on their in-game avatars and race to save Jumanji whilst learning to work together in the process. The plot is pretty straight forward and does lack the wonder and mystery the first achieved but the way Welcome To The Jungle pokes fun at its own internal video game logic is really cleverly done and helps to make this a much more lighthearted affair.
The back story to each of the four kids at the beginning of the film does lack the same empathetic connection the first managed to achieve too but once inside the game, the four avatars have a pretty solid chemistry. Bethany (Jack Black), Martha (Karen Gillan), Fridge (Kevin Hart) and Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) all portray their personas outside the game to perfection and the awkward interactions between characters, especially Martha and Spencer, is believable and really well written. It helps too that the dialogue is witty and humorous, elevated by the comedic prowess of the four stars at the heart of this film.
Although there’s some good bursts of action and some nicely worked set pieces, the villain Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) is disappointingly under-developed. There’s a greater emphasis on human enemies too with little explanation as to how they got in the game or how there’s a thriving community of people. With such mystery and allure behind the jungle in the first film, Welcome To The Jungle does lose the inherent intrigue the first had, instead replacing it with outright comedy. Whilst the comedic focus isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as a follow up to Jumanji, the sequel just can’t quite achieve the same lofty heights this achieved and pales in comparison.
Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is a fun and oftentimes humorous film and whilst it isn’t anywhere near as good as the original, it’s also not the disaster many may have been predicting. With a solid cast, a witty script and an action packed plot line, Welcome To The Jungle is an enjoyable but largely forgettable film that lacks lasting appeal. The under-developed characters and simplistic plot line does make this a rather simple sequel too but there’s enough here to make this an entertaining ride nonetheless. Those looking for a simple, fun film complete with humour and action will be right at home here but for those after a sequel that matches the thrills found in the first film will be left disappointed.