Film: Jumanji: Welcome to the jungle
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Morgan Turner, Alex Wolff, Missi Pyle
Director: Jake Kasdan
Rating: * * *
Possession and Darwin’s survival of the fittest gets a new spin in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle as Hollywood in time-honoured ishtyle skims the age-old question “Who am I?” through the transformation of a teenaged foursome into characters from an old video game. Director Jake Kasdan plays the transmogrification for laughs in his adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s book which made it to the widescreen in 1995 with Robin Williams.
Fittingly, Kasdan’s reboot gives a nod to its predecessor while converting the titular spooky board game into a video trap which sucks the teens into zones of perilous adventure. Remember the child who is gobbled by a TV set in the Spielberg flick? But Spielberg sounded a cautionary note against electronic media, while Kasdan references identity in Hollywoodian mode with comedic elements accentuated by sharp contrasts between the teens and the chimerical personalities they assume: scrawny Spencer (Alex Wolff) becomes brawny archaeologist Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) Athletic “Fridge” (Ser’Darius Blain) inhabits chhota zoologist Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart). Garam cheez Bethany (Madison Iseman) mutates into mota Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black).and mousey Martha (Morgan Turner) blossoms into scantily-clad martial arts expert Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan)
In the jungle, the band risks being devoured by hippos, loathsome snakes and other beasts including the two-legged as they battle for survival, while imbibing lessons about empathy, unity and team spirit. Kasdan’s talented cast displays considerable chutzpah and though the video console won’t charm Cannes, the well-shot jungle-bungle may make viewers roar with delight.