Turn on BBC1 any time over Christmas and there is a decent chance they will be showing Jumanji…or that is how it seems. However, apart from Kirsten Dunst showing her talent at an early age and a less annoying than usual Robin Williams, it is not a film I have an affection for.
This sequel doesn’t have to achieve much to surpass it, but it does so easily. The board game of the original has been replaced by a computer game that four teenagers find and play, only to be sucked into it, assuming the roles of the avatars they had previously selected. They have to complete a mission whilst retaining at least one of their three lives in order to be able to get back out of the game.
For the most part, director Jake Kasdan keeps the film moving at a decent lick. The action sequences are well-staged and the script has enough funny moments in it, which was a little surprising as six people had their hands on it (usually a sign that a film is in trouble). It does not try to hard to stick to the rules of a video game, and as a result, is probably the best attempt yet at filming a game, other than the original Resident Evil movie.
The main joy, though is in the performances – all of the personas in the game are very different to how the kids are in real life and that throws up a lot of comic situations. The Rock who has become a reliable comic action hero nicely sends himself up and Karen Gillan is a delight as the sexy adventurer not comfortable in her skimpy outfit. Kevin Hart is still not a taste I have acquired but he isn’t too annoying here, and Jack Black gives his best performance in years as Bethany!
There are some flaws though. At over two hours it is stretched out a little too long, the message is a little heavy-handed, and Bobby Cannavale’s villain doesn’t make much of an impression. However, it is a great romp to watch over the festive period.
Rating: 7 out of 10