JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE REVIEW

Welcome to the Jungle. We’ve got fun and Dwayne.

Four teenagers are sucked into a magical video game, and the only way they can escape is to work together to finish the game.

When I first heard the rumours circulating about a Jumanji sequel/reboot/whatever, I screamed to the movie gods . . . Why?! Do Hollywood hold nothing sacred?

Jumanji was one of my favourite childhood movies that featured the late (BUT always great) Robin Williams.

BUT then I saw the cast and thought, “This could work”. And it did.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t perfect by any means BUT Jumanji: WTTJ offered big, dumb fun by the bucket load.

I liked how the team tried to make the premise their own. Taking it in a completely different direction BUT still throwing fitting nods to the 1995 classic (Classic? It’s only 95 mate).

The opening set the tone as the dusty relic of a board game realized that it was behind the times. Morphing instead into a vintage 80s video game console . . .

Yeahhhh BUT it worked. Pulling four dysfunctional youths into the abyss.

I loved how the different personalities took over the wrong avatars. Delivering the laughs straight off the bat.

The nerdy hypochondriac Spencer taking on the unit that is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

The Rock knows how to deliver a popcorn movie. Embracing the ridiculousness of it all as his avatar has no weakness and endless abilities. The smolder . . . Seriously? Only the Brahma Bull could pull that one off.

The dumb arrogant high school jock taking over the miniscule servant Kevin Hart. An avatar riddled with an array of weaknesses (No pace, no stamina and . . . CAKE. That’s right. Cake). Brilliant.

You knew you were in for a treat when The Rock and Kevin Hart were involved. They work so well together and you couldn’t tell how much of the banter was part of the script or just off the cuff. Judging by the Rock’s face . . . A lot of improvisation was going on.

The shy academic nerd taking on the Lara Croft bad ass avatar (Karen Gillan). I know Gillan had a little backlash over her skimpy outfit BUT The Rock was poking fun at his physique. Plus the joke picked out some of the sillier aspects of early video games/imagery.

Gillan owned it. The only thing I could pick at her performance was not anything she did BUT her character’s fighting tactic. Dance fighting?

Beating people up to the sweet sounds of Big Mountain’s Baby I Love Your Way? The first sequence wasn’t too bad BUT the several that followed . . . Yeah, not so much.

However, her exchanges with Jack Black were fantastic. Especially when Black gave her lessons on how to attract a man. I was in stitches.

And despite how good everybody was . . . Jack Black, take a bow.

He stole the show as the photogenic selfie taking high school beau Bethany took over his overweight professor avatar. Even when he went to the toilet in the jungle with the lads, I was howling. The School of Rock star has been missed.

I don’t think this would have worked without the cast. Nick Jonas didn’t play too bad a part BUT his character was a little bit boring for me.

The limited lives threat gave it a little more edge as the gang had to adapt to their avatars fast! You die in the game, that’s it!

It was entertaining with enough thrills, spills and avatar kills. Seriously, I wasn’t joking about the CAKE thing.

The special effects and fun set pieces delivered enough ooohhs and aaahhhs.

The stampede sequence will never top the original. BUT it was still mental to watch (Even if it was a little disorienting and packed with some shoddy CGI). Bearing in mind, the orignal is now 23 years old (23! Now I feel old), the effects looked more dated in this one.

However . . .

Flight of the Conchords’ Rhys Darby was completely wasted as a virtual avatar.

And Bobby Cannavale as Van Pelt? Now you could have banked on the Boardwalk Empire maestro to inject some villainy to his sinister demeanour. BUT maybe this was a miscast?

His freaky warlock bugged me. No literally, what was the deal with all those bugs crawling around him and in his ears? *Shudders* Yikes.

We needed someone with the pantomine delivery of Jonathan Hyde. He had the right balance of mayhem. Crazy but cold blooded. The dynamic (That chemistry) between him and Alan was missed in this. Cannavale’s Pelt was too bland and generic. Shame.

  

My main issue was the pacing. It took a while to get going as we had to endure the build up and get a sense of the teens. Easygoing stuff BUT you couldn’t help BUT think, “When are they going to find the flippin’ game?”

When it was funny, it was hysterical. When it was action packed, I was riveted. BUT all the stuff in between lumbered the whole thing and got me a little fidgety.

BUT a great cast, top laughs and some mad fun made this one to watch for everybody.

Enjoy!

3/5

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*NEW* THE LEGEND OF TARZAN REVIEW *NEW*

The-Legend-of-Tarzan-poster-3

The king of the duds?

The cast did their best BUT it just wasn’t enough. A disjointed, drawn out and disappointing reboot of the iconic vine swinging jungle man.

Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard – True Blood), having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.

Once I got over the absence of a Phil Collins soundtrack, I was ready to embrace the start of the summer blockbuster season. On paper, this should have ticked all the boxes. BUT somehow it just didn’t quite deliver for me.

The opening was intriguing enough as Christoph Waltz’s shady Leon Rom (Spectre) struck up a deal with Djimon Hounsou’s (Gladiator) demonic Chief Mbonga. Simple. Access to the diamond mines in exchange for Tarzan’s capture.

However, the pace soon put me into a mini-coma as “civilised” Tarzan skulked around the incredibly drab (and appropriately titled) Greystoke Manor. It was a good 45 minutes before anything got going.

I could respect the writers for trying to shake up the legend BUT they skimmed through the origin stuff far too quickly and replaced it with a dull and predictable story line that was taken far too seriously.

The origin flashbacks were the most interesting bits. I was happy to watch the same old story of Tarzan raised in captivity and fighting with the alpha males.

The lovely Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) was wasted in her role. She had good chemistry with Skarsgard BUT was confined to playing a damsel in distress. I was thankful that the flashbacks skimmed through their nauseating romance. It was only a few scenes and that was enough.

Waltz played the same stocky and slimy villain to laughable results. I couldn’t take him seriously. He may have had some moves with those rosary beads BUT Rom felt like a complete parody of Waltz’s former roles.

Skarsgard certainly looked the part and put my body to shame with his physique. BUT his broody demeanour and wooden delivery didn’t do Tarzan justice. He got better as the film progressed and won me over by the end BUT it was too little, too late.

Thank God for Samuel L Jackson (The Hateful Eight). A much needed comic relief to the piece. Considering the huge budget, I was disappointed by the shoddy CGI on offer. In one scene, the detail on the apes was uncanny. They looked as realistic as the ones in the latest Planet of the Apes.

BUT then the next sequence, we have Tarzan swinging from one badly CGI’d vine to another. Yikes. It spoiled the whole thing. I knew it was going to be a little ridiculous BUT the stampede finale was horrendous and far too cartoony.

Bearing in mind that Jumanji is over 20 years old (I know, right?!), I’m still impressed with the effects. BUT this latest endeavour actually had me wanting for the old school make up and props from the dated Christopher Lambert adaptation.

The last 30 minutes delivered a lot more of what I had expected from the get go! All the sombre serious drama thrown out for a funny, riveting (if disjointed) mad dash finale.

The fight sequences were actually well choreographed when Tarzan was allowed to show off his super strength. Because (of course) being raised by apes, you develop an incredible bone structure that allows you to dispose of numerous soldiers with one punch. BUT entertaining none the less.

It was all too disjointed for my liking. Robbie and Skarsgard weren’t really in it as much as you’d think. Especially Miss Robbie. She was either tied up (Steady now) or constantly recaptured.

Apart from Jackson, the rest of the supporting characters were either weak or unmemorable. For all of Chief Mbonga’s (Hounsou) promise, his reason for Tarzan’s capture was so predictable and dealt with far too quickly.

Disappointed, to say the least. We didn’t even get to see Skarsgard deliver the infamous jungle call. Just a couple of bellows off screen.

A meandering pace, shoddy CGI and weak characters ruined what could have been a fun B movie flick.

2.5/5