by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
FIRST LOOK: "Jumanji Welcome to Jungle" has an Indy/Jurassic Look;

When gaming geek Spencer (Alex Wolff/Dwayne Johnson), athletic Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain/Kevin Hart), intellectual Martha (Morgan Turner/Karen Gillan ) and popular smart phone texter Beth (Madison Iseman/ Jack Black) go from dusty high school back-room "Breakfast Club" detention barbs to zapped inside a "jungle survival" video game, the returning an emerald orb and running from thugs and rhinos recalls an old-fashioned adventurer --- Indiana Jones. 

The high schools  converted to inside the game grown ups have  opposite personalities which  infuse ongoing humor as they  outwit villains to preserve at least one of there three (game) lives. 

Johnson (  Baywatch, Fate of the Furious, San Andreas   ) is not the top dude here. Physically the transformation of shy Martha to bad ass martial arts expert and the transgender metamorphis of super pretty and supper self absorbed "where's my phone" Bethany chart pleasant , smiling territory.

FIRST LOOK: "Jumanji Welcome to Jungle" has an Indy/Jurassic Look;

Restoring a hidden treasure in the jungle reveals a link to an iconic wise cracking adventurer .  Jake ("Zero Effect," "Bad Teacher," "Sex Tape" ) Kasden, son of Lawrence ( co writer of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Empire Strikes Back," and "The Big Chill" )  directed adding Indy 'Easter eggs" rumbling through a jungle that too has hints of a "Jurassic Park." 

Aside from  tall 'Rock,' looking so out of place among the transformed avatar kids, Welcome to the Jungle entertains as an off beat adventure comedy, not falling prey to superficial video game adaptations which tend to trade character depth for continuous action.

Once in the jungle, the  fish out of water adults have as much fun learning about each other and their new found strengths as they do avoiding cliffs and charging rhinos. Instead of constant physical duels, the troupe learn to work together solving riddles, gaining confidence, planning strategy, and , of course, outrunning wild animals and bad dudes.

"She said" opinions have concentrated on kinky boots (not Jurassic Park or Romancing the Stone high heels) worn by kick ass Martha. Considering that she's the wallflower duff of the teens, her adult sexiness (especially  flirt and seduction lessons from the Bethany avatar) satirize both video game sexiness and objectification. The quacks between these two are priceless.

FIRST LOOK: "Jumanji Welcome to Jungle" has an Indy/Jurassic Look;

They are part of the group's fast track 'maturity' for winning the game and potentially returning to their teen lives. Characters, not special effects, resound in a hoot of a reboot.

Far more famed critics than myself have raved about this fun movie going experience which is funnier and "unexpectedly exciting " explosive  fantasy that reinvents the original which starred the late Robin Williams.

As the Washington Post wrote:

"It also delivers a message, geared to teens, about overcoming their insecurities to participate fully in life, without pounding the lesson into the ground." And, "it's the characters, not high concept special effects that  elevate this family friendly (even for the adults) Christmas treat.

Where so-called delayed sequel syndrome toppled (in part)  Wall Street Money Never Sleeps, Independence Day 2, and to a certain extinct Blade Runner 2049, Welcome to the Jungle has a smooth road to franchise. It's now, off to see Alice's new wonderland jungle.

 

 


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