“Does anyone even play board games anymore?” Chimed one studio exec as they wrote a blank cheque to greenlight Welcome to the Jungle.
How do you re-introduce a bizarre nineties fantasy starring Robin Williams to a new (mostly attention deficit) generation? Simple: video-games, and The Rock. This new digital landscape couldn’t be further from the dark fable of the original. Here it’s all fast paced action, explosions, and body-swap slapstick; that’s not a bad thing, mind you. Rather than having all sorts of scary things emerge from an ancient board-game; four teens get sucked into the Atari-esque computer and take the form of their in-game avatars: Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, and of course, Mr Johnson himself leading the pack. To get back home to the real world, the four avatars have to group together to complete the game. They have three lives each. This allows the filmmakers to indulge in a few enjoyably morbid gags in which characters fall off cliffs or are gouged by wild animals.
Sure, the video-game references feel out of date and there’s no replacing Robin Williams, but this Jumanji gets by on the self-mocking tone and the charms of its heroes. (research Jack Whiting)