|Directed by||:||Jake Kasdan||Produced by||:||Matt Tolmach, William Teitler||Story by||:||Chris McKenna||Starring||:||Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale||Production company||:||Gyula Pados.||Distributed by||:||Sony Pictures, Entertainment|
Back in 1995, the original Jumanji gave audiences a thrilling, family-friendly adventure featuring a pair of orphaned siblings whose lives are upended when a mysterious board game brings all the wonder and danger of a fantastic jungle to life in their New Hampshire town. Celebrated director Joe Johnston packed heart, excitement, and laughs into the film, which also featured the late Robin Williams in one of his many memorable performances.
More than two decades later, Bad Teacher and Sex Tape director Jake Kasdan brings the story of that iconic game back to the big screen in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a sequel to the 1995 film that gives it a contemporary update, more mature themes, and a cast of familiar faces. Although it doesn’t quite capture the same sense of wonder and suspense that fueled the first film, Welcome to the Jungle still manages to offer an entertaining adventure — primarily due to its charismatic, talented stars.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson headlines a cast in Welcome to the Jungle that also features Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Guardians of the Galaxy actress Karen Gillan. The actors portray a quartet of colorful game avatars inhabited by four high-school students who discover a dusty old copy of Jumanji — now in video game form — while stuck in detention together. Tasked with returning a magical jewel to the massive stone idol it was stolen from, the teenagers must learn to work together using the strengths and weaknesses inherent to their in-game avatars in order to return to the real world.
The film’s accomplished quartet of camera-friendly actors are more than capable of carrying a film individually, but instead of stepping on each other’s toes in Welcome to the Jungle, they play off one another expertly and make the scenes they share more entertaining together. Johnson and Hart’s chemistry was already a known commodity thanks to last year’s Central Intelligence, but the addition of comedy veteran Black, as well as Gillan — who’s shown a knack for comedic timing in the Guardians films, as well as several seasons of Doctor Who — makes a funny cast considerably funnier.