Another familiar title hits the big screens again this week, will nostalgia continue to fill seats in the cinema or is the bubble set to burst?
There’s a lot to like in this fantasy action flick from director Jake Kasdan. Like a lot of big releases this year, there is a real retro feel to the film that will amuse older viewers and intrigue younger ones too. Our 4 teenage misfits are sucked into what looks like a 90’s video game, where they become the avatars they have chosen. They have to make their way through the various levels of the game to fight the big boss at the end and free Jumanji from the curse. On the way they discover they all have strengths and weaknesses, as well as only 3 lives with which to play with. Lose all 3 and you are out of the game. The villain of the piece is also tracking their every move trying to retrieve a jade jewel they have stolen from him, in an effort to save the land, or something.
To be honest the plot isn’t really what we focus on, instead it’s the characters, their interactions and development as the story races by. The cast including Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Karen Gillan and Kevin Hart have great fun playing against type, with Jack Black really ramping up the camp as he channels his selfie obsessed teenage female counterpart. The set pieces are genuinely thrilling, one of the highlights being a flight in a canyon in a damaged helicopter being pursued by a herd of rhino’s – you won’t get that in Mission Impossible! In fact most of the action feels like classic Indiana Jones, you can’t go wrong with that.
Story wise things pretty much go the way you think they will, but it’s the journey that is the fun, and by the end of the film our heroes have evolved and changed into better versions of themselves. There are a few slightly adult jokes that may have left some of the younger audience bemused, but all in all this a great popcorn flick that everyone will enjoy and find something of interest in.
I can’t help feel that Kasdan has a real soft spot for iconic 80’s John Hughes screenplays, as the first act starts like a homage to The Breakfast Club. Maybe I was looking too deeply, but i’m sure it was intentional even in the themes of both movies. A group of slightly lost high school kids from different social backgrounds are placed in detention, and the experiences they have together change the way they see and perceive themselves. When the principals sends them to detention, he wants them to think about “who they are”. This echos the essay Molly Ringwald and company are expected to write while they’re banged up in the school library on that legendary saturday in 1985. “We think you are crazy telling us to wrote an essay telling you who we think you are.You see us as you want to see us.” Yep that’s The Breakfast Club alright, just without the helicopter and the rhino’s.