American films

Film review – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a pleasurable fantasy adventure sequel for all the family

Four teenagers get sucked into a jungle video game and morph into avatars, played by a hilarious Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan and Kevin Hart, who make the most of a finely honed script. You’ll laugh a lot

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 1:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 7:28pm

3/5 stars

The spirited sequel Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a smartly engineered family film with plenty to make you smile. Taking the place of the first film’s board game, which unleashed all manner of animal chaos into the world, this Jumanji, directed by Jake Kasdan ( Sex Tape ), is a mysterious video game.

Four teenagers in detention find a plug-in cartridge and its console, and get swiftly sucked in, Tron-like, to its digital terrain. The neat twist here is that, once inside this jungle-styled game, they are not their teenage selves but the avatars they selected.

High-school princess Bethany mutates into Jack Black’s cartographer Professor Shelly Oberon; nerds Spencer and Martha become Dwayne Johnson’s super-strong Dr Smolder Bravestone, and Karen Gillan’s “killer of men” Ruby Roundhouse. Meanwhile “Fridge” morphs into Kevin Hart’s weapons valet Moose Finbar.

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Soon enough, they realise the only way out is to complete the game by returning a giant emerald to its rightful position on a mountaintop. Much like a video game, the characters all have to use their special skills to overcome obstacles (everything from motorbike-riding goons to rampaging rhinos), have weaknesses, and just three lives to succeed.

The real fun comes from the adolescents adapting – or not – to their new-found alter egos. Black is hilarious as the all-too-precious Bethany, truly getting into the spirit of this highly strung high-schooler, but all the cast have their moments in a script that’s really been refined.

Some may find a few of the gags a little crude, but this is still a pleasurable family adventure.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle opens on December 21

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