‘Jumanji’ a box office hit and quality film

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BENJAMIN HAYLETT
staff writer

For the past four weeks, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” has been dominating the box office and has brought in worldwide box office earnings of $675 million, and with good reason.
Going into the theater, I was fully expecting to be underwhelmed by a mediocre Hollywood money grab that pandered to the lowest common denominator. Instead, I was greeted by a surprisingly well-told and fun adventure film with great characters and strong performances from almost all of its principal actors.
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is the story of four high school students from completely different walks of life who, while serving their detention sentence, get sucked into a dangerous adventure game from the ‘90s.
Each student is given three lives at the beginning of the game, and if they lose all their lives in the game, they will die in real life.
To return to the real world, the team has to learn how to work together and save the jungle of Jumanji from the game’s antagonist.
If this plot sounds basic it is probably because it is. Just about every element in this movie is a cliché that has been done before.
With this being said, Jumanji brings a lot more to the table.
As proved in “Central Intelligence,” the comedy pairing of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart just works.
The two have a visual chemistry throughout the film that is palpable and drives a good majority of the film’s comedic moments.
Adding to the film’s quality is its emotional heart.
“Jumanji” separates itself from other movies of this genre by instilling messages about acceptance and self-confidence alongside its harrowing plot.
It is kind of like “The Breakfast Club” but instead of being stuck in the library, the kids are stuck in the middle of a jungle.
With a relatively small budget of $90 million, the visual effects of “Jumanji” are very well-done.
For the most part, nothing is so glaring and obviously fake as to completely take the viewer out of the moment of the film.
A couple shots here and there do look really fake, but then again, so do some found in the newest “Star Wars.”
As long as the story is entertaining enough, bad effects really take a backseat to the enjoyment of the film.
The action scenes are surprisingly good as well. They are well executed, and each action scene works to advance the plot.
Granted, many of them are over the top and completely defy the laws of physics, but if that combination was not fun to watch, we would not have five “Transformers” movies under our belts and another on the way.
It has been a truly long time since I have seen a straight forward adventure film like this, and I have to say that it is really refreshing. It has a direct, objective-based plot that does not pretend to be anything else, and by embracing the simple nature of this type of narrative, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” has enthralled an enormous audience and will continue to do so for some time.

BENJAMIN HAYLETT
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