In the year 1981, a children’s book called, “Jumanji” was published by Chris Van Allsburg. (also known for writing The Polar Express, Zathura) Jumanji is about a mystical board game involving a player, who participates in the game. As the player progresses, the game manifests dangerous obstacles in which the player must survive, if he/she beats the game, everything will go back to normal. A Decade Later, a film adaptation of the book, gained further recognition with Robin Williams, (god bless his soul) headlining the picture.
Jumanji was released in 1995. (same year Toy Story came out) At the time of it’s release, the film received mixed reviews from critics. A few years later, it became a cult classic among audiences who are 90’s Kids/90’s Babies. Ten Years Later, A film adaptation of “Zathura” directed by Jon Favreau, attempted to replicate the success from it’s predecessor, and it worked out pretty well.
Now that a stand alone sequel called, “Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle” is out in theaters, I want to spread the word of mouth for those who’ve never ever ever seen the one that started it all.
This article doesn’t contain any potential SPOILERS. You’re allowed to read this review. Is it still relevant? Well, let’s find out shall we?
Positive & Negative Qualities
Positive: Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst, & David Allen Grier, all did a great job on their respective performances.
The High Concept/What If Scenario, about a board game coming to life in which a player must play the game by surviving several obstacles during a certain turn.
Joe Johnston (Honey I Shrunk The Kids, The Rocketeer, Captain America: The First Avenger) did a decent job directing the film adaptation. He’s also a fellow Texan like me.
Action Sequences were intense thanks to the game having a mind of its own putting the players in peril.
Writers and Producers managed to craft a cohesive narrative to expand a thirty page children’s book, to a full length feature film, adding layers to the main characters by fleshing out their backstories and giving them personality.
Practical Effects were used to bring certain creatures to life and a jungle like location was also used as a set piece.
Cinematography didn’t contain any Shaky Cam throughout. Thank goodness.
This is probably the first time Robin plays a kid trapped in a man’s body, prior to a critically panned flop called, “Jack.” Robin’s character, Alan Parrish is ten times better than Jack Powell. Alan’s backstory is understandable on why he got trapped in the game since he was a kid.
One of the main characters is named Peter. Kirsten Dunst went on to portray Mary Jane Watson in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” Trilogy. To put the cherry on top, Sony owns the rights to the films, until they made an agreement with Disney to allow the character to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (MCU for short)
Jonathan Hyde plays a Dual Role as both Alan’s father & Van Pelt. This is a reference to Hans Conried’s Dual Role as both Captain Hook & Wendy’s father, in Disney’s “Peter Pan.” Robin Williams was also in Steven Spielberg’s “Hook.” A spiritual live action sequel to Peter Pan.
James Horner (Aliens, The Mask Of Zorro, Troy) orchestrated the music.
A Pause Worthy Moment, showing a G.I. Joe toy set. Eighteen Years Later, Dwayne Johnson (future lead star of Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle) went on to star in “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” Plus he was also good friends with Robin.
Without giving too much away, a scene with Van Pelt buying ammo and weapons at a gun store, is a reference to “The Terminator.”
I have to admit, my favorite line in the movie is, “What year is it?!” Y’all know it’s a meme.
Negative: C.G.I. didn’t aged well, due to the fact that this movie came out in 1995. Come on fellas, C.G.I. was still developing like a baby learning to walk for the first time.
As Optional Con for arachnophobes like me, there are giant spiders in this film. To put salt in the wound, there’s an extreme close-up of a spider’s face. Speaking of spiders, guess who went on to star in one of Sony’s cash cow film franchises that I’ve mentioned before?
Product Placement featuring the following brands including, Wonder Bread, Sony, Visa. I’m gonna give this con a pass, because there wasn’t any other brand to shove down my throat.
The Final Verdict: A-
In my opinion, Jumanji kept me entertained from start to finish. If I were you, I highly recommend this picture, along with Zathura, if you’re eager to see the new one currently out right now. Well what are you waiting for? Introduce your kids to the first movie and Zathura, before you get off your butt to see Welcome To The Jungle!
R.I.P. Robin Williams, thank for your memorable performance as Alan Parrish. Your line, “What year is it?!” Shall forever be cemented in our brains.