Sunday, March 25, 2018

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
When four high-school kids discover an old video game console with a game they’ve never heard of--Jumanji--they are immediately drawn into the game’s jungle setting, literally becoming the avatars they chose: gamer Spencer becomes a brawny adventurer (Dwayne Johnson); football jock Fridge loses (in his words) "the top two feet of his body" and becomes an Einstein (Kevin Hart); popular girl Bethany becomes a middle-aged male professor (Jack Black); and wallflower Martha becomes a badass warrior (Karen Gillan). What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji--you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves--or they’ll be stuck in the game forever...
Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Four high school kids have all made recent mistakes that landed them in detention. They have been tasked with removing staples from old magazines, but the old game console in the basement seems like considerably more fun. They pick an avatar with little information about these characters and suddenly the teens appear to dissolve into thin air. Their essence was sucked into the game and they find themselves inside the world of Jumani. 

 Football player nicknamed Fridge though he was picking a man named Moose. It’s actually Mouse (Kevin Hart) and he immediately notices that he is missing the top two feet of his body. Mouse is a small man whose main purpose is to be the weapons valet for the muscular and handsome Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson). Before coming to the game, he was a nerd writing Fridge’s papers for him but he’s now big, strong and fast. 

 Also in the adventuring party is Dr. Shelly Oberon (Jack Black). Before coming to Jumani, she was a self-obsessed teenage girl but now she’s an overweight cartographer. Last, but not least, is Ruby Roundhouse. Ruby is a hottie with significant fighting skills, and that’s a far cry from the awkward anti-social girl outside the game.

It doesn’t take long to learn the lay of the land. A few quick deaths teach the gang that they each have three lives. They also discover that they have a mission. Bad guy Van Pelt (Bobby Canavale) has stolen an artifact which they must retrieve and return to its rightful place. When all is right in Jumanji, they can return home to their former lives.

Although it is rated PG-13, this is a fun family film. It’s important that viewers are old enough not to be scared by rampaging rhinos or a bad guy that has bugs crawling into and out of his ears. My ten year old was the perfect age to laugh at Shelly (who is a teenage girl in the real world) discover his penis and learn how to pee with it. The film has a lot of heart and respects the Jumanji legacy while working as a stand alone adventure. The casting is perfect and in the extras we learn that the Director was able to land all his first choice actors.
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
I was sad I didn’t have the 4K to review, but it turned out I didn’t really need it. The film was shot digitally and the transfer to Blu-ray was excellent. Within the world of Jumanji, there is bright sun and lush greenery to enjoy. The black levels are on point and skin tones and textures are authentic. The computer generated elements mesh perfectly with live action and enhanced dirt and dust helps to sell the action. Fine detail and clarity is outstanding in this terrific presentation from Sony.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’s Blu-ray offers a DTS 5.1 HD-Master Audio track. The action is well supported and dialogue is intelligible throughout the film. You’ll feel the bass of the Jumanji drums and the weight of the rhinos stampede. Explosions ring true. I know the 4K must have a perfect Dolby Atmos track but the Blu-ray does not disappoint.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
The Blu-ray contains the following supplemental features:
  • Gag Reel (2:26) – Giggles during filming with line flubs and prop failures.
  • Journey Through the Jungle: The Making of Jumanji (14:54) – The NPC Nigel Billingsly guides you through the secrets of how Jumanji came to be. A look at the sets, costumes, computer generated creatures and visual effects.
  • Meet the Players: A Heroic Cast (7:09) – The actors describe a great experience making the movie. Kevin Hart being uncomfortable in a jungle environment is especially funny.
  • Surviving the Jungle: Spectacular Stunts (5:47) – Chase sequences, fights, motorcycles, waterfall jumps and more.
  • Attack of the Rhinos! (3:56) – A look at the rhino chase scene in various stages of completion including pre-viz and green screen.
  • Book to Board Game to Big Screen and Beyond! Celebrating the Legacy of Jumanji (4:45) – Admiration for the original film is shown with and explanation of the apprehension to touch the project.
  • Jumanji, Jumanji Music Video (3:35) – Jack Black and Nick Jonas have put together a very unique performance.
  • Previews
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle pays homage to the character Alan Parish and the legacy of Jumanji. Dwayne Johnson smolders like no one else could. The film is fun, full of action, and features a new adventure. The main players in the game really make the movie. I am likely to rewatch this film much more often than the original. The Blu-ray offers pristine video, excellent audio and a healthy list of extras. It is highly recommended.

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