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Jumanji Review

Jessie Liu

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The dull grey shades of the school’s basement had transformed into the emerald greens and brilliant blues of the lush plants, babbling rivers, and strange creatures of the mysterious jungle in the video game, Jumanji. In the exhilarating and comedic movie, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle released in December of last year, four high schoolers are swept into a video game and confronted with the daunting task of saving the game’s world from the villainous character, Russel Van Pelt. The students, Spencer (Alex Wolff), Anthony “Fridge” Johnson (Ser’Darius Blain), Bethany (Madison Iseman), and Martha (Morgan Turner) all had only one thing in common before their shared demise: they were punished to detention on the same day and forced to clean out the school’s basement. Upon Spencer’s discovery of Jumanji while cleaning, the four attempt to entertain themselves by trying it out. Unbeknownst to them, once each person selects an avatar and begins, the game will teleport them into its virtual world to play physically as their respective avatars. When the group is first teleported into Jumanji, the audience gets quite a kick out of watching the four become acquainted with their new bodies―for instance, the bulky football star becoming a short but hilarious character played by actor Kevin Hart! In addition to Hart, the rest of the movie involves Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, and Nick Jonas. However, in contrast to the humor of this scene, the players quickly realize that each of them have three lives―which if expended, will result in the permanent death of that person in both the game and reality. The four of them also learn that they may only leave the game and reenter reality upon winning.

The first thing one can notice about the main characters is that each of them fulfill a certain archetype that involves various virtues and vices, which together, form a team that will typically proceed to conquer an assortment of antagonists. In the movie, Spencer is the nerd, Fridge is the a football star who relies on Spencer to complete school assignments, Bethany is the popular and self-centered pretty girl, and Martha is the loser with neither looks nor friends. Although the movie may seem shallow-minded with its use of such a cliché, it does include character development. As the film progresses, the change of Bethany in particular is prominent. Through her experiences as an overweight middle-aged man faced with a life-or-death situation, Bethany transitions from being selfish and superficial to being compassionate and less  appearance-obsessed. Spencer and Martha also challenge their originally awkward and antisocial roles through their budding romance, spurred only by the impending threat of death. In essence, each of the key characters changes in some way that is encouraged by the treacherous situation, thus adding depth to the movie.

Ultimately, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a fun film that will thrill all audiences. Though the concept of being stuck in a video game is common among creative thinkers―from the producers of anime (shoutout to Sword Art Online for any anime fans out there!) to the writers of a multitude of novels–the movie puts a contemporary spin on the concept in addition to possessing a cast of all our favorite actors. So get yourself to a movie theater, grab a friend or two, and as the Jumanji tour guide enthusiastically exclaims: “Welcome to Jumanji!”

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Jumanji Review