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Plug-in for a visual treat, fun ride with Jumanji

Farheen Hussain, Bengaluru, DH News Service Dec 30 2017, 20:13 IST
A wise man once said, "You learn a great deal from the movies you watch." The saying was apt for a setting where a duo couldn't stop using their phones in the cinema hall till Professor Shelly aka Bethany uttered the golden words for this generation, "Since I have lost my phone, my other senses have heightened."

Quips like these managed to kindle laughter and even applause for their crowd-relevant content all through the movie.

'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' is just that. A coming-of-age comedy with appealing visual effects spiced with life lessons.

There is no replacement for the exciting first instalment the late Robin Williams gave us, but Dwayne Johnson is great with his to-die-for-smoulder (the smoulder literally shakes the screen).

In a think-before-you-wish moment, a teen finds himself with a mutated Jumanji game, which overnight turned itself from a board game into a video game console plug-in. Fast-forward 20-years - an unlikely group of four teenagers are "stapled" together for a detention. A cute nerd and video game "expert" Spencer (Alex Wolff) with his ex-friend Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain), popular "insta-girl" Bethany (Madison Iseman) and introvert girl-next-door Martha (Morgan Turner) are a bored bunch serving their detention. They stumble upon Jumanji, are sucked into the game and take up some unexpected avatars.

This time, the game doesn't invade the real world, but the players enter Jumanji.

Spencer is now a biceped, archaeologist/explorer Dr Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), who has zero weaknesses. Fridge is now a pocket-sized Zoologist, Franklin "Moose" Finbar (Kevin Hart). Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) is Martha's avatar who may not know how to flirt but will kill you with her 'moves'. And the gorgeous Bethany is a "curvy genius" Dr "Shelly" Oberon, a cartographer (Jack Black).

This is a video game inspired movie which does justice to both. There are non-player characters like Rhys Darby's Nigel. He is that guy who will give you the back-story of the video game and your mission to complete it.

Johnson is himself with the tough look but he smoothly slips into a teenager's insecure skin occasionally, and it is cute to watch that on screen. Hart is funny as the back-pack bearer and Gillan as the unsure girl is perfection. Black is amazing as the self-obsessed teenage girl ("Where is my phone!" should be her tagline).

Jumanji is a treat with the smooth visual effects and a live video game feel. A cherry on top is the 'you-go-girl' power and a positive feel about girls being friends, which are often portrayed with cat-fights and grudges in popular movies.

The film is a package of Jumanji drums, special effects, funny moments (lots of them) and instances to remind us "who you are and who you want to be." Because it is never late to learn, is it?

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