Payton Mayer, Reporter

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a continuation of the first film that starred the beloved Robin Williams and a young Kirsten Dunst.

The movie is directed by Jake Kasdan and begins with a runner on a beach passing the board game and taking it home to his son. The board game transforms into a video game and finds its way into a school basement where four kids serving detention get engulfed into the game, stuck trying to save the world of Jumanji with a special gem.

The cast includes Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan all with phenomenal performances. But two people really stuck out in the film: Johnson and Black.

Johnson took shape of a nerdy, shy and fearful personality and embraced it well. We’re so used to seeing him as the brave, bold hero. It was refreshing to see him take shape as a character, continuously expanding his acting abilities.

For Black, he had a little more fun with his character. Black played a self-absorbed, cell phone-addicted teenage girl: he absolutely killed this role. The demeanor he carried himself with and the way he talked was hilarious. You could tell Black loved this role and it was great to see him back on the big screen embracing his character.

An example of this was in one scene Black’s character had to urinate. As he began urinating, he commented on how much “easier” it was, calling his genitalia a “handle.” Since he was acting as a girl it was funny watching his shock and awe with his genitalia.

Despite the comical acting from the cast, and inappropriate but hilarious jokes, I think the best part of the movie was the video game approach.

We have all played or watched someone play video games and we know the basis of them; you have to go through levels where each one gets harder until you eventually beat the game, right? But Jumanji did something special on top of that. They made it exactly like a game.

Kasdan used NPC’s (Non Playable Characters) who are the characters in the game that you cannot control and have select responses. This was funny because there were moments of the movie where characters in the movie would repeat their lines. It was a reminder to the audience that you are basically watching a video game.

Kasdan did a good job of resembling a video game with cutscenes, NPC’s and placing levels. It was refreshing to watch and something I hope more directors experiment with.

Despite the fresh take on the movie and hilarious comedy, my favorite part of the film was the reference to Robin Williams’ character, Alan Parrish.

If you recall, Williams played Parrish in the ‘95 film as the kids sprung him to life, erecting him out of the board game.

In the film, the four main characters run across Nick Jonas, who played Alex in the film. Alex was camping out in a hut and he explains that it was built by a man named Alan Parrish. It was a sweet and kind hearted nod to the man who made Jumanji so popular.

As for flaws, I really don’t have any. The only thing I didn’t truly like about the film was the villain: Cannavale.

Watching the film, you were obviously engulfed with the comedy, but the story lacked. You didn’t feel like they were pressured or hurried by Cannavale in any way. There was no sense of thrill and demand he brought to the screen.

His character seemed underdeveloped and I think I hurt the movie. You knew he wanted the gem that would save Jumanji because it gave him powers, but there was no tension that he brought to the main heros.

All-in-all, the film was enjoyable, funny and entertaining. The cast was excellent and it was satisfying to see Jack Black in a good film. Saying that, if I had to rate this film with a letter grade, I would give it a B+.

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