By Jair Martinez
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel to, but not a remake of, the agreeable 1995 Jumanji starring Robin Williams and a young Kirsten Dunst—an adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg’s sensational 1981 book. In the 1995 movie, players of the mysterious board game Jumanji found their reality invaded by sundry animal, human, and insect predators. In the 21st-century version, the premise is the same, only this time the game is adapted into a video game to lure in and relate to people from this generation.
Spencer Gilpin, playing a nerd who finds himself in Dwayne Johnson’s body, is amazed by the fact that he is no longer a skinny, weak kid. Martha Kaply, the paragon of the brainy misfit girl, looks down at her impossibly long legs as if thinking, “How do I walk on these things?” as she is transformed into the body of Karen Gillan. Jack Black, inhabited by a blonde high-school mean girl, Bethany Walker, looks at her reflection in horror as she sees that she has become an, “overweight, middle aged man”. Kevin Hart, the avatar of the linebacker-built Fridge Johnson screams, “Where’s the rest of me?” as he sees that he is much shorter than he was a second ago.
The characters are inside a game in which they need to work together to survive various lethal obstacles like rhinos, hippos, wildcats, and Bobby Cannavale—the evil explorer on the quest for the Jaguar’s Eye gem which they need to restore to its rightful place atop a mountain in order for them to be able to go home. If they don’t, they’ll be stuck in the game forever. The proof of this potential repercussion comes in the form Nick Jonas as the avatar of a guy who has been there since 1996 after someone evidently found the Jumanji board game that was tossed away in the first movie.
As a viewer, it’s fun to watch Johnson’s character use the sight of his own body to teach himself not to run screaming from danger and muster up the nerve to kiss Gillan as she comes to terms with her sudden talent for martial arts. But after all the adventure and romance, all the characters learn the age-old lesson that they only have to live their lives (all three of them) to the fullest, never taking a second for granted. Overall this funny, action-packed, thrilling film is a must-watch and definitely earns the Jair stamp of approval, so go check it out for yourself!