By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
After their hilarious turn in the 2016 movie, “Central Intelligence,” it was a given that Kevin Hart (“Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie”) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson” (“Rampage”) would join forces again.
This time they’re back in the action adventure “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”
Directed by Jake Kasdan (“Bad Teacher” and TV’s “Fresh off the Boat”), “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is the overdue sequel to the 1995 “Jumanji” movie which starred Kirsten Dunst, David Alan Grier and the late, Robin Williams.
This updated version has clever twists and bigger and better special effects. What also makes it funny and fun is the cast of Jack Black (TV’s “The Last Man on Earth”), Karen Gillan (“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”) Alex Wolff (“Patriots Day” and boy toy, Nick Jonas).
This time around, Jumanji, the familiar board game has been revamped into a video game. It still has a powerful hold on those who play around with it like gamer Alex Vreeke (Mason Guccione, TV’s “Preacher”) who gets it as a gift and is soon trapped inside.
Nearly 20 years go by and a group of high schoolers; geeky Spencer (Wolff), football star Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain, “Bolden”), the outgoing, yet mean girl Bethany (Madison Iseman, TV’s “The Text Committee”) and loner Martha (Morgan Turner, “Wonderstruck”) have been sentenced to detention. As part of their punishment they're tasked with cleaning and sorting through some old books in the school basement. That's when they stumble upon the video game Jumanji.
It doesn’t take long before they start playing and are swept away into its fantasy land. But here’s the kicker. They aren’t themselves, but rather the adult avatars they chose as part of the game.
Now, Spencer has transformed into Smolder Bravestone, the muscled archeologist and leader (Johnson).
Football hero Fridge has been cut down a size or two and is now a diminutive zoologist and weapons specialist named Moose Finbar (Hart). Martha has come out of her shell and most all of her clothes as Ruby Roundhouse ( Karen Gillan,“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”). Bethany has morphed into a chubby professor named Shelly Oberon (Black).
Seaplane McDonough, the avatar of Alex Vreeke (Nick Jonas is a mysterious guide and adventurer and part of the mix too. He attempts to help the gang escape from Jumanji.
They need all the help they can get because they’re way in over their heads. Although they have special skills and weaknesses, they have to put aside their differences in order to survive all the pitfalls of the jungle. And there are many like wild albino rhinos, hippos, snakes and other realistic CGI predators that are hot on their tails.
They also have to watch out for a bad guy/explorer named Russel Van Pelt, who has ulterior motives is out to control the powers of the "Jaguar's Eye.”
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” doesn’t miss a beat with its charm, humor and wild adventure. It’s a nice Christmas gift for moviegoers looking for sheer fun and escapism this holiday season.
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Check Out This Trailer For "JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE."
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.