Coming to Blu-ray next Tuesday from director Jake Kasdan and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is an adventure inside a video game with “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”
It is 1998 and Alex is jogging on the beach when he is stopped by the sound of drums. Looking in the sand he discovers a box that reads Jumanji and takes it home. Learning it’s a board game he is clearly uninterested as video games are in. Setting the box on the shelf he jumps into play own game. Later that night Jumanji has, well, upgraded itself!
Flash forward to 2018 and Spencer (Alex Wolff) is into video games and trying to keep an old friendship with Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain). The only way that can happen is by doing the football players homework which leads to both having detention. Bethany (Madison Iseman) is totally into selfies and her phone. Thinking the world revolves around her and that puts her in detention. Martha (Morgan Turner) isn’t a fan of P.E. class and that gets her into detention.
So, all four are sentenced to two days of removing staples from old magazines in a dingy room when Fridge finds a video game and Spencer hooks it up. Wanting to do anything but pull staples, the four choose characters in the game and get ready to play. That’s when a mysterious green light from the game pulls them into a jungle filled world with one slight difference – well not slight exactly.
The characters each chose has changed their appearance and now Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) is the tall, muscular smoldering Dr. Xander Bravestone, Fridge (Kevin Hart) is the small yet still mouthy weapons carrier Franklin ‘Moose’ Finbar, Martha (Karen Gillan) is the bad ass beauty with skills Ruby Roundhouse and Bethany (Jack Black) is still Bethany without actually being Bethany but is Professor Shelley Oberon.
It takes the four time to acclimate to where and who they are and trying to discover what the game wants. That’s when Nigel (Rhys Darby) shows up and explains to them that a man named Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) has taken the Jaguar’s Eye and it must be returned if they want to return to home.
Learning what their skills are and finding a map that takes them through the levels, they meet Alex (Nick Jonas) who doesn’t realize how long he’s been in the game. Dealing with such different personalities, this group of players needs to come together and be smart about how to play the game because the game only gives them three chances.
They discover that planning out their moves together works and Van Pelt is hardly prepared for how good they are!
Johnson as Spencer is given a chance to be the big guy with little guy insecurities. Of course I never thought I’d hear him scream like that but I found myself giggling. He has made a name for himself playing these roles and people love him for it. Wolff as Spencer the younger is insecure and feels abandoned by a friendship with Fridge that he remembers fondly. Wanting to do anything to keep it means making a decision that just intensifies the split between them and Wolff plays this role wonderfully.
Hart as Fridge is clearly unhappy with how his character looks and has a serious case of little man syndrome. When pressed to put Spencer in his place, he has a big surprise coming to him. Blain as Fridge the younger knows that he isn’t treating Spencer right and feels justified for blaming him when they get in trouble together. Boy does he have a lesson coming his way.
Gillan as Martha is shocked by her appearance in the video game and surprises herself even more when she learns one of her skills is Dance Fighting. The shell she was in sort of fades away when the gang needs her certain set of skills. Turner as Martha the younger is shy and keeps to herself but when pushed she roars which pretty much put her right smack into detention.
Black as Bethany is completely hilarious – I mean completely! His mannerism and attitude are absolutely in character and when training video game Martha how to flirt with a guy, I was in stitches. I think this is Black’s silliest role since “Tropic Thunder!” Iseman as Bethany the younger is totally wrapped up in, well, herself and her phone. When those two things are taken from her, it is more than she can handle.
Jonas as Alex has been in the game for quite some time and although a bit sad that he doesn’t realize it, it is to the advantage of the group that he has knowledge of how to beat levels. His weakness is a fear of losing his last life before breaking free of Jumanji. Also, there is a touching scene between the group and Colin Hanks so I’m definitely giving a shout out for that.
Other cast include Sean Buxton, Mason Guccione, Marin Hinkle, Tracey Bonner, Natasha Parker, Kat Altman, Michael Shacket, Marc Jackson, Missi Pyle and Colin Hanks.
An amazing bonus feature is that the Blu-ray includes a Snapchat code that will be available March 20. The code will transform you to the world of Jumanji as Dr. Smolder Bravestone gives additional clues to another code and another experience as Jumanji brings characters to life. More fun included is the ability to record the experience and share it with friends!
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is a fun family film which means its time to break out the popcorn and enjoy the adventure. Adding “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” to your own home entertainment library means you can play again and again and there’s nothing wrong with a little adventure now and then.
In the end — the game has evolved!