Film review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a delightful, exciting and hilarious sequel

Kevin Hart as Moose Finbar, Dwayne Johnson as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhous

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. Picture: SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT/FRANK MASI - Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Frank Masi

At first glance Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle could be dismissed as a desperate bid to cash in on the franchise potential of Joe Johnston’s much loved Jumanji (1995) and its 2005 follow-up Zathura: A Space Adventure.

It is a relief to report that writer and director Jake Kasdan’s instalment is a delightful, exciting and hilarious sequel.

Set 20 years after the original, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle sees a mismatched group of high-school students (Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Ser‘Darius Blaine and Morgan Turner) sucked into the titular video game, which their adult avatars (Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black and Kevin Hart) must complete if they wish to escape.

The film’s masterstroke is in its central casting of Johnson, Gillan, Black and Hart. The quartet share a lively, warm chemistry and perfectly embody both the strengths and insecurities of their teenage, human counterparts.

While all four actors are on top form it is Black who stands out. His animated, effeminate Shelly Oberon threatens to take the film hostage.

Less impressive is Kasdan’s use of CGI. So heavily does the director rely on it that it threatens to throw the film off-kilter and often undermines the emotional core of many of the film’s scenes.

Nevertheless, Kasdan infuses his film with a playful energy and fills it with plenty of gripping, action packed set-pieces to keep audiences enthralled.

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a fun, uproarious adventure enlivened by the charming performances of its central cast.

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