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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (DVD) Review

Judy and Peter Parrish move in with their widowed aunt Bonnie Hunt in 1969 in a small New England town and discover a strange…

Judy and Peter Parrish move in with their widowed aunt Bonnie Hunt in 1969 in a small New England town and discover a strange Victorian-era board game within. As they begin playing Jumanji – an adventure game featuring untamable monkeys, indoor monsoons, giant insects and vanishing 12-year-old Alan Parrish – his disappearance begins to occur before them.

Joe Johnston and Chris Van Allsburg’s 1995 adaptation of Robin Williams’ 1982 illustrated children’s book was one of Robin Williams’ most critically-acclaimed performances; featuring him as shy yet wisecracking Alan Parrish with big hearts and big laughs – an audience-pleasing film which combined school detention premise with lively computer-generated action scenes.

Jake Kasdan’s 2017 remake of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle managed to add fresh thrills while staying true to its familiar story. It’s an epic journey that brings back together its original group of misfit teens in A-list avatars: Dwayne Johnson plays Dwayne, popular girl ends up as Jack Black (among many others), making for an interesting take that often gets lost amid modern blockbusters’ effects-driven madness.

Spencer Gilpin (Alex Wolff) returns to his fantasy world of Dr. Xander “Smolder” Bravestone to regain strength and self-confidence he once enjoyed as Alan Parrish. Along for this journey are former close friends Fridge Johnson (Ser’Darius Blain), Martha Kaply (Morgan Turner), Bethany Walker (Madison Iseman), as they each negotiate their avatar’s unique strengths and weaknesses in order to retrieve the Jumanji jewel and break a curse.

The story features both dark and humorous moments, including several meta-moments highlighting how video games are often structured. Furthermore, filmmakers take full advantage of its premise to poke fun at AI characters’ repetitive behavior as well as cutscenes used as exposition.

The film’s most notable asset is its cast of talented young actors. Alex Wolff and Madison Iseman shine as Spencer, an intelligent but insecure student at Dartmouth, and Bethany, an overconfident beauty who finds joy in fashion and photography. Kevin Hart is hilarious as Franklin “Mouse” Finbar; while Jack Black and Karen Gillan make an unforgettable pair of scantily-clad commandos. Despite taking place almost entirely within a video game world, CGI jungle animals prove quite realistic – their look quite striking.