Photo by Sony Pictures Entertainment, Public Domain
Sony’s unexpected smash hit of 2017 was released this month on DVD and Blu-ray, yes Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is now available to enjoy at home. This stand-alone follow-up to the original 1995 Jumanji movie starring the iconic Robin Williams turned out to be one of the studio’s most successful films at the box office. Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black as four teens who get sucked into the legendary game, Welcome to the Jungle will appeal to anybody who enjoys a rip-roaring video game adventure.
Directed by Jake Kasdan and produced by Matt Tolmach, Jumanji 2 had some sizable shoes to fill since the original 90s movie is more than your average popcorn affair. With some great performances by Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt and Kirsten Dunst and a villainous turn from Jonathan Hyde as the hunter Van Pelt, the original had much to say about friendship, family and forgiveness. Although it was expected to be a tasteless flop, Welcome to the Jungle manages to honor the memories of Williams and the original movie by going in a completely different direction! To be clear, this is a reboot for the 21st century, not a remake.
Welcome to the Jungle follows four students who, upon finding the mysterious Jumanji video game during detention, get sucked into the perilous jungle world. This time around, we’re following the players inside the game but with one big twist — spoilers ahead. The four protagonists have become the video game avatars they choose: geeky Spencer transforms into the buffed-up Dr. Xander “Smolder” Bravestone (The Rock), looks-obsessed Bethany becomes the unexpectedly “curvaceous” Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), athletic Fridge shrinks down to Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart) and the introverted Martha becomes the jungle’s Lara Croft, Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). And although their physical appearances may have changed, the bewildered players still have their teen angst and anxieties, leading to some hilarious and heart-warming moments as the group learns to work as a team and look beyond appearances.
During its run in theaters, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle received rave reviews, even the notorious Rotten Tomatoes rated it 76 percent fresh from critics and 89 percent from audiences. Central to the movie’s success are some standout performances from the leading quartet. Jack Black and Dwayne Johnson have a boatload of fun sending themselves up, the always watchable Karen Gillan delivers a nuanced “ugly duckling” performance and Kevin Hart is at his wise-cracking best.
With its fresh new cast and plot, it should come as no surprise that the third movie in this blockbuster franchise is already in the works. Sony has confirmed that the cast will be reunited with Kasdan and the original production team for Jumanji 3. However, as if the all-star cast wasn’t enough, Hart wants the sequel to feature A-listers like Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington as villains in the jungle. But the world’s highest-paid comedian is no stranger to working with the best of the best, he’s just finished competing against the world’s top sprinter Usain Bolt in a series of challenges adjudicated by the world’s highest-earning poker pro Daniel Negreanu!
Rated PG-13, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is out now on DVD and Blu-ray. The digital edition, available for download in standard and 4K definition through licensed retailers includes behind-the-scenes documentaries, gag reels and more. Visit the official website to find out more.