Arts & Culture

Review: ‘Jumanji’ revitalizes childhood nostalgia

By Miles Scroggins, Staff Writer

The adventure continues in the second version of the classic Robin Williams 90’s film “Jumanji.” Only now, the audience is taken into the world of the game instead of the game coming into the real world. It is the perfect way to introduce young kids to a timeless tale originally created by Chris Van Allsburg with the book of the same name. This time around, the action is bigger, the visual effects are bolder and the laughs just keep on coming.
Set 21 years after the first film, the game of Jumanji has evolved from a board game into a video game console. While serving detention, four high school kids find the new game in a junk pile. Once they begin to play, they are literally sucked into the jungles of Jumanji and enter the bodies of their chosen avatars. Nerdy Spencer becomes a tall and muscular adventurer played by Dwayne Johnson. Football star Fridge turns into a pint-sized zoologist played by Kevin Hart. Awkward and antisocial Martha becomes a confident and gorgeous martial artist played by Karen Gillan. Popular girl Bethany becomes a smart but chunky man played by Jack Black. Nick Jonas also appears as a stranded player who is an expert at piloting. The players soon realize that they don’t play the game; the game plays them. In order to return to the real world, they have to survive the dangers of the jungle and beat the game while discovering something about themselves.
The sequel does justice to the original film that may lead to slight nostalgia for any ’90s fans. It also doubles in content and humor which makes it impossible to dislike. The acting throughout the movie is imperative especially for Black’s portrayal of a female high school social butterfly. His use of body language and subtle quirks help bring to life the character of a girl trapped in the body of an overweight middle-aged man. Johnson also perfects his acting as a shy and neurotic teenager as opposed to the roles one would typically expect from the Rock.
The unique and comic chemistry between this all-star cast makes the film that much more satisfying and fun. The idea of actors playing teenagers trapped into grown up bodies delivers a strong message to a variety of audiences. For teens and young adults, this film is about overcoming insecurities and living your life the way you see fit. It also plays on the concept of the continuous evolution of video games and virtual reality. The themes and messages of this movie speak out to the scared kid in all of us.

This article first appeared in the Friday, January 19, 2018, Edition of The Echo.