I'll be the first to admit that right from the get-go, I had a bad feeling about this movie. It was a few all-stars, giving it that automatic box office draw, but it looked kinda ridiculous, all the same. This movie's name was 'Jumanji', but it sure as hell didn't feel like it. So is that true of the movie, itself? Well... kinda. Actually, the movie is entirely enjoyable for what it is, but it definitely doesn't have the same feel as the original film.
Where the original was a family-friendly adventure with cool special effects, this is more like an action adventure made specifically for that teen crowd. It actually, strangely enough, has almost more of a 'Breakfast Club' vibe to it.
To kick things off, one should probably know that this is meant to continue, after we left off. One way or another, the Jumanji game board ends up on a beach, and some kid named Alex finds it. He opens it up to find a game cartridge inside. He plugs things in, turns things on, and off he goes into the jungle, just like Alan Parrish in the first movie. Anyway, time passes, four kids get detention, find the game, turn it on, and get sucked into the game as well.
For starters, there's Spencer (Alex Wolff/Dwayne Johnson), a wimpy nerdy type who becomes a muscle-bound leading man. Then there's Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain/Kevin Hart), a football playing jock type, who becomes a scrawny, weak sidekick. Perhaps most entertaining is Bethany (Madison Iseman/Jack Black), a snobbish teenage girl who thinks she's better than everyone who turns into a very flamboyant, well, Jack Black). And I got a pleasant surprise from Martha (Morgan Turner/Karen Gillan) who goes from insecure teenage girl to badass "killer of men" (no really, that's her title), and it's pretty entertaining to see Gillan play someone so insecure, knowing she's also played Nebula in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'. Admittedly, they all do pretty good at playing "opposites", so to speak. Except, well... Kevin Hart is pretty much Kevin Hart, and not entirely convincing in his role. I enjoy that guy's stand up quite a bit, but he's sorta stale in his acting roles, speaking for myself.
I think it's only fair to forewarn parents about this one too. As I say, it's not that family-friendly movie the original was. It wasn't entirely without a bit of crude humor, but this is straight up penis jokes from time to time, blended with some colorful language. That said, it did manage to get some laughs from me, considering how these penis jokes go. Let's just say it's kinda funny to see Jack Black "experiencing" manhood for the first time.
My problems with it are more on the nit-picky side of things. For example... how does a VIDEO GAME work with this? I mean, the board game could have been cursed by some witch doctor or something. It has the look of an antique. It's more convincing that it would carry that sort of weird magic. A video game has to go through a bunch of geeks who understand how these things work. I dunno, it just kinda feels like a cheap way to "modernize" things. Speaking of the game, how are it's graphics so good in 1996? They looked to be at least of PS3 quality to me. But I digress. These are nitpicks and not entirely important to what actually makes the movie decent.
In case you didn't quite get it from my description, everyone ends up in a semi-"opposite" role from their respective selves. It's very much about overcoming certain aspects of yourself so that you can be the person you want to be, or at least learn about what it is to be these characters. Imagine seeing Kevin Hart fearlessly bully The Rock only to be slammed into a wall (seriously, that was hilarious). I guess it's a fairly obvious "lesson", even going by the trailer, alone.
For me, this was something that didn't necessarily need the 3D to be entertaining, but I am a bit curious to what the 3D would have looked like. Anyway, it wasn't thoroughly entertaining, but it was funny, interesting, and well-acted. Worth checking out on the Netflix level. I'm gonna give it a 3, but it's an enthusiastic 3.