Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Reviewed
Sat. 2/24/18
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
3.3333333333333
Acting
4
4/5
Morality
3
3/5
Music
3.5
3.5/5
Story
3.5
3.5/5
Visuals
3.5
3.5/5
Kernel Factor
2.5
2.5/5
It's a good time.
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
Viewing Environment:
Theater
Viewing Crew:
Significant Other
Times Watched:
1
Genre:
Action
Payment Method:
MoviePass
Review:

I welcomed the "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)" reboot. I felt like with this cast they could have something super special. And truly, the cast didn't let me down. They are funny and almost deep. It's an enjoyable watch - albeit all the inappropriate add-ons. From a storytelling perspective I felt like there were some breakdowns in terms of consistency. Although I don't think the average moviegoer really cares about that point (which I expand on in the Kernel-Factor section of this review). Still, the way the movie tried to outline itself doesn't always work to how it tells the story, which is weird but forgiveable. Overall, I laughed and had a good time - just don't ask my wife what she thought. 

Acting
I felt like "Jumanji's" main characters (both young versions and "game" versions) were well cast and had great chemistry. Kevin Hart really carried the humor throughout the movie. I liked how the actors often related back to their "real-life" selves while in the game. Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan were all excellent casting choices - I really can't imagine a different cast doing this better. The reason for me docking it one kernel simply comes down to the evil character, "Van Pelt" played by Bobby Cannavale (who I like as an actor). If you follow my reviews you know I seem to have a huge problem with how evil characters are portrayed - no one can seem to get it right. And this film is no exception. Not only is his makeup so overdone (unlike everyone else in the movie), but his overt evilness is too much. There's no subtly in his evil theme/persona, which I think is important for a good evil character. When something is in-your-face (overt) in a film, I either accept it because the film only has 2 hours to tell a story or I question it as rushed storytelling. For me, it's the latter here in "Jumanji". 
Morality
The PG-13 rating should be taken seriously for kids under 13. It's quite crude and violent throughout. I love how when the characters are given the choice to drink they don't like it, I like how the young selfie-loving girl becomes Jack Black's character, I like how they find something within themselves to overcome situations, but the violence is pretty intense. I felt like the movie went over-the-top in areas that it didn't have to. I'm on the fence with this film's Morality because there's a lot of good aspects to its message but then there's a lot of inappropriate add-ons.
Music
Suspenseful moments in "Jumanji" are really well built through music. You can tell the script lent to some enjoyment in the music department. But there were large spans of time where I didn't specifically remember the music - and I don't see that as good or bad. 
Story
Fresh take on an old story - I really liked the overall structure. It moves super well. And I would say that is overall a major positive, but also its crutch. It moves well because it glosses over very important details. I won't spoil anything for you here, but there are so many questions I have that I was frustrated the characters didn't address. This is why it feels like a comedy more than an action/adventure film, because it's pretty shallow on its Story - even though its themes are a bit deeper. I really want to go back and watch "Jumanji (1995)" to see the differences in storytelling. I would've loved to see a script to this movie that focused more on resolving riddles than getting eaten by hippos. 
Visuals
I felt like they made some short-cuts here. The moving between sets/stages and practical locations (Hawaii) were sometimes blatantly obvious, and not good for my Visual review. Dwayne on a bike with a green screen didn't help either. Overall, it's good - just not great for this kind of a budget.
Kernel Factor
My greatest frustration with the film comes down to how it tries to portray itself as a video game and yet constantly breaks its own rules. They have an "Edge of Tomorrow" approach, which is a movie I loved, but then they quickly make up their own rules as they go. So while some game characters (like "Nigel") are very programmatic and repetitive, the evil character, "Van Pelt", seems to have no rules or repetitive ways of approaching the game. I felt like they missed something here that could've made the film more interesting as the characters defeated subsequent levels. 

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