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Diff 2017: ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ review

Watch the film only if you are a fan of Dwayne Johnson and appreciate Kevin Hart’s brand of humour

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is yet another miscalculated, and poorly executed nostalgia-bait sequel, adding to a long list of such movies.

With the promise of a fun, action-packed adventure with a lot of heart, the film falls flat, even with its biggest selling point: the humour.

The prologue, which is set in 1996, is a revisit of the ending of the previous instalment, Jumanji (1995). It is rushed in implementation, and is incredibly lazy storytelling.

Cut to present day, and we follow four high-schoolers, who eventually end up in detention. This is where all the action, and dramatic tension begins, upon discovery of the Jumanji game. The movie is quick to adhere to hackneyed tropes, and there is little to no subversion as the story progresses.

As the quartet begin their journey, there are moments of self-discovery, and concerns of identity, that are almost always quelled instantly for the execution of a joke. As a result, its weakest aspect is the pseudo-inspirational tone that it adopts, especially in the more dramatic moments. Even for a film that demands to not be taken seriously, this can only be a result of the lack of self-awareness.

The cinematography and the general aesthetic, while not exceptional in the real-world scenes, is noteworthy in the jungle. The camera is used enticingly in the final sequence, as it weaves through the trees from one character to another in their quest, and the action could have used a lot more of that. Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan stand out for their portrayals, while Kevin Hart plays an exaggerated version of himself.

Ultimately, it may not be a fitting tribute vehicle to the late Robin Williams, but works as a fun watch if you’re a huge Johnson or Hart fan.

— The Young Journalist Award (YJA) at Diff is a training programme for high school and university students who are aspiring writers and reporters. Seven students are competing at the festival this year. One winner will secure a monthlong internship with Gulf News.

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