Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle</strong> (2017)

(On Cable TV, July 2018) I frankly wasn’t expecting much from a return to the Jumanji universe: The original is uneven enough (something not helped at all by its copious but primitive CGI effects) that a sequel seemed unnecessary—it felt even less necessary when it became obvious that it was going to focus on videogames, a topic as overexposed as could be. But I’ll be the first to admit that I was unexpectedly charmed by the result: Anchored by the likable Dwayne Johnson, supported by the careful use of often-grating comic actors as Kevin Hart and Jack Black, and further enhanced by a great performance from lesser-known Karen Gillian, the cast is up to the film’s surprisingly witty script. Not only revisiting the Jumanji concept through familiar videogame mechanics, Welcome to the Jungle wrings comedy out of shifting character relationships, body identity questions, and videogame tropes addressed with some wit. While the structure is schematic by design and some plot developments can be seen well in advance, much of the film’s interest is in the moment-by-moment beats. It does deliver a bit more than expected, which is already not too bad considering the tendency of modern reboots, sequels and rip-offs towards mediocrity. 

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