Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017): ‘The Game Film’ – A Film Review


For many the 1995 Robin Williams film, Jumanji, would be nostalgic. This film about a board game that conjures up wild animals and situations into your very home was one of Robin Williams’ loved family classics. It was actually based upon a children’s picture book novel by Chris Van Allsburg that was adapted into this film with many changes. For example, the main characters in the picture book were Peter and Judy, not Alan Parrish. It also didn’t have the time travel aspect of a character getting sucked into the board game only to be released 26 years later. Also missing was Alan Parish’s rite of passage of confronting and bonding with his dad, who also bared a resemblance to a hunter in the game – a physical representation of his fears and challenges. Similar to the Robin Williams film but just coming up early, Jumanji has a sequel in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The sequel stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan and looks to bring back Jumanji into the present day.




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The Game

Exploring the realm of video games isn’t a new concept at all and with films like Tron, The Last Starfighter, eXistenZ, The Wizard and Adventures in Dinosaur City – it feels like a bit of an 80s genre in itself. What matters is what the film does with this concept and with video games getting bigger and bigger, and more developed as a medium – not to mention the impact of the internet – perhaps video games was Jumanji’s next step. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’s greatest strengths lie with its cast and the exploration of game based jokes, as well as the exploration of avatars. Each star is only the avatar embodied by their younger counterparts. This exploration manages to parody star personas and really brings forth a lot of the films charm and humour. However this only goes so far and moments such as a character that is simply there for exposition, is both a funny parody of video game characters and a robotic and stale way to introduce elements of the story arch.


The Simplicity Associated with Target Audience

Sufficed to say the film keeps things simple and none could be more simple than the villain. He is just there to be a villain and represents the biggest connection the film has to being about the jungle. In a strange turn from the jungle in the title and the jungle brought forth by the original Jumanji, there are more villains on bikes with guns than there are animals with some exceptions. Characters and plot points are simplified which sometimes works as you have to follow a character within a character but sometimes gives the film a lack of depth. All the while CGI ranges from interesting to simply not there, instead a colourful range of shots explores the jungles and the very specific look of the star actors.



All the while, the film is played for fun, it’s simplicity an indication of its target audience; unfortunately thinking that elements need to be dumbed downed for audiences. Repeating exposition is funny as a concept of a non-playable character that repeats dialogue but as a basis for the films plot is extremely annoying. Whilst many scenes are played for specific variations on the films concept and to simply heighten the drama. SPOILERS: Particularly bad is a character’s in game weakness to be exploited for a death scene, which is then only by deus ex machina, to be brought back to life by another character giving them that life – the scene is now pointless. END OF SPOILERS. It’s a dumb fun film, nothing more, nothing less. They could do more with the film, there’s a lot the film could do as a tribute to video game culture – but doesn’t.


A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below for any who wish to see one.



Jumanji, a board game that can suck you into its world or bring the jungle to you, has been found and it quickly adapts to the modern day becoming a video game. Found 20 years later a new group of teens are sucked into the game and assume avatars played by Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan as they attempt to save (or complete) Jumanji.


Films Mentioned

Adventures in Dinosaur City (d. Brett Thompson USA 1991)

eXistenZ, (d. David Cronenberg UK/Canada/France 1999)

Jumanji (d. Joe Johnston USA 1995)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (d. Jake Kasdan USA 2017)

Tron, (d. Steven Lisberger USA 1982)

The Last Starfighter (d. Nick Castle USA 1984)

The Wizard (d. Todd Holland USA 1989)



Further Reading



Official Site

Interview with the Cast

Interview with the Cast

Interview with Jake Kasdan

Behind the Scenes

Easter Eggs

25 Facts

Jumanji (1995) vs Jumanji (2017)


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This was an analytical review of….


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (d. Jake Kasdan USA 2017)



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