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Review: Jumanji Welcome To The Jungle proves a dull return to 90s favourite

PUBLISHED: 08:17 22 December 2017

Kevin Hart as Moose Finbar, Dwayne Johnson as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse and Jack Black as Professor Shelly Oberon in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle. Photo: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Frank Masi

Kevin Hart as Moose Finbar, Dwayne Johnson as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse and Jack Black as Professor Shelly Oberon in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle. Photo: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Frank Masi

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Like I’m A Celebrity, with people you have actually heard of, this sorta-sequel to the 1995 Robin Williams film has some fun moments but flipping the original’s concept on its head, it comes up with something much less interesting.

Jack Black as Professor Shelly Oberon in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle. Photo: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Frank MasiJack Black as Professor Shelly Oberon in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle. Photo: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Frank Masi

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (12A)

**

This sorta-sequel to the 1995 Robin Williams film about a board game that comes to life, flips the original’s concept on its head; and comes up with something much less interesting.

The original had a board game where the jungle creatures in it escaped and ran wild in the real world; this has four teenagers sucked into an old video game, in avatar form. Having them go to the jungle, rather than the jungle come to them, is an inherently duller proposition.

All it offers you, basically, is a series of I’m Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, with people who you have heard of. It’s all about four celebrities performing pointless tasks in a very tame jungle to win rewards so that they can go back home.

Computer gaming nerd Spencer Gilpin (Alex Wolff) serves detention alongside three fellow students at Brantford High School: strapping football jock Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), social media-obsessed cheerleader Bethany (Madison Iseman) and shy bookworm Martha (Morgan Turner).

For their punishment, the teenagers begrudgingly clean out the school’s musty basement, where they stumble upon a discarded Jumanji video game and before you know it they are sucked into the game.

Kevin Hart as Moose Finbar in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle. Photo: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Frank MasiKevin Hart as Moose Finbar in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle. Photo: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Frank Masi

Spencer becomes strapping archaeologist Dr Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge is scaredy-cat zoologist Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart), Bethany is quirky cartographer Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) and Martha is reborn as acrobatic warrior Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan).

There’s some fun to be had in all this. The vain selfie queen gets stuck inside the Jack Black avatar, the nerdy boy inside musclebound Johnson etc.

The problem is that this is a very dull jungle, with a dull villain (Bobby Cannavale), and dull CGI panthers and rhinos. Basically, it’s like Jurassic Park without dinosaurs; or Skull Island without King Kong.

It has one big plus point: it’s a teen comedy where the teenagers are completely marginalised. We open in a Breakfast Club situation with four kids, but no sooner have we met them, then the grown-ups swan in and take their places.

Usually, when Hollywood goes back to the past and does up an old property they tend to make it bigger and overblown. New Jumanji seems remarkably small scale.

There doesn’t look like there are 22 years between this and the original. Which may work for it; there’s a raging nostalgia for 80s naffness right now. It may be a redoing of a 90s film but it has so much 80s naffness that even modern day visual effects can’t put a shine to it.

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