Karen Gillan manages to stand out against a painfully dire plotSONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

Many children of the nineties grew up with the dark, complex, and original film Jumanji, starring Robin Williams, about a board game that throws its participants into various fantastical, yet horrific situations. How the mighty have fallen! Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is an embarrassment that in no way deserves its title, belonging to a completely different franchise that needs to die immediately.

“Someone says, ‘We have to work together’, over and over again”

It opens with the Jumanji board game being found on a beach, where the first film left off. The boy who finds it is woken by the famous drums, and opens the wooden box to find… a game cartridge. A ripple of knowing laughs runs through the cinema. The new Jumanji is a video game.

The plots of console games are, necessarily, often largely non-existent. This, on the other hand, is a film, and it never tries to do better than the generic video game plot that it provides. Four teenagers find an old video game while in detention, and upon selecting their characters, are sucked into the jungle world of the game. They need to put a jewel at the top of a mountain before a villain can steal it, after which they can escape the game. Here comes a spoiler alert: they do, he does not, they do. No twists at all, with the possible exception of the group befriending a boy who disappeared twenty years ago after finding the game.

Trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the JungleYOUTUBE

The characters consist of boring stereotypes: the germophobic nerd, the jock, the outcast bookworm, and, worst of all, the popular blonde cheerleader whose personality consists of her Instagram account. When they enter the video game, Popular Girl complaining that she cannot find her phone provides at least six of what this film considers ‘funny lines’, as do her new male genitalia.


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Indeed, one might only realise these were meant to be jokes at all, thanks to the placement of pauses for laughter, or rather grimaces. As the dialogue had no redeeming features, one’s breath should hardly be held for any attempt at character development. Popular Girl argues then connects with Outcast Girl, two of the characters fall in love, and someone says, “We have to work together”, over and over again. It even manages to be patronising about the workings of video games: “I think it’s a cut scene – a lot of games have them…”

The cast, considering the material they have been given, do a good job. Kevin Hart is particularly entertaining as the group’s zoologist and ‘backpack guy’, with Karen Gillan also strong as the martial artist heroine who cannot work out how to flirt or kiss, and a great cameo from Rhys Darby as an NPC guide. The cast are responsible for around three funny moments that can be squeezed from the film, leaving their audience mildly embarrassed for them.

This premise could make a good four-minute comedy sketch, but nothing longer or more committed than that. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a car crash that this reviewer could not walk out of. Save yourselves

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