Jumanji: A New Film Version After 22 Years

Aiesha Solomon, Features Editor

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It seems shocking to hear, but twenty-two years have passed since the first Jumanji movie came out in 1995. The 2017 version of the film – this time based on a video game rather than a board game as in the original – keeps some of the usual themes, while adding a modern twist as well.

The movie starts off with the Jumanji board game from the last movie being found on a beach in 1996 and brought home where a teenager keeps it in his room. This teenager plays his video games instead of the board game and the board game version of Jumanji seems to notice this and changes into a video game to catch his attention and pull him into the game. After this, the film’s story begins with the main characters – teenagers in high school – getting detention, which brings them all together. Like any film based in high school, the characters represent very archetypal roles. There is the football player Fridge, played by Ser’Darius Blain, the nerdy Spencer, played by Alex Wolff, the attention seeker Bethany, played by Madison Iseman, and the shy introvert Martha, played by Morgan Turner.

In their detention they are asked to clean out the storage room in their school. As they are cleaning they find Jumanji in its video game form and curiosity takes over. Each picks their character not expecting to be sucked into the video game as the character they chose.

In the video game, the teenagers are turned into the characters. Spencer becomes Dr. Smolder Bravestone, played by Dwayne Johnson, Fridge turns into Franklin “Mouse” Finbar played by Kevin Hart, Martha becomes Ruby Roundhouse played by Karen Gillan, and Bethany is Jack Black who plays Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon. Similar to the 1995 Jumanji film, the characters are stuck in the game as their respective characters until they finish the task of returning the crystal of the jaguars back to its statue and restoring peace to the jungle or losing all of their lives, which results in dying in real life.

Along the way, they find a lot of some themes that exist in regular video games like Non-playable Characters (NPCs) that are very annoying and repetitive. They also have to deal with an evil villain mastermind and his henchmen, which they have to defeat along the way. As a surprise in the middle of the movie, the teens-turned-heroes meet the teenager from 1996 who got stuck in the game before them. The young man, Alex Vreeke, is stuck in Jumanji as Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough and is surprisingly played by Nick Jonas. Alex joins them on the rest of their adventure until they return the stone and defeat the villains before being sent back to their own time with Alex, as if they never left their real lives whatsoever.

This movie was made as tribute to Robin Williams, who starred in the original Jumanji, and played Alan Parrish. While nothing can live up to the original Jumanji: Into the Jungle, this movie is still a great experience for the whole family (though parents may wish to avoid bringing kids younger that 13 because of the profanity). As a movie and a tribute to a great actor, this movie deserves 8 out of 10 stars.

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