Thursday, March 06, 2008

REVIEW: Jumanji


Year: 1995
Director: Joe Johnston
Starring: Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst, Bradley Pierce, Jonathan Hyde
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG

In 1995, Joe Johnston brought the popular book "Jumanji" to the big screen. It was pretty hyped because of how great that book really was. To no surprise, the film did really well grossing an estimated $262 million worldwide on a budget of only $65 million. Jumanji has been one of those movies that I have seen so many times. I had the VHS version of the movie back when I was just a kid and I always use to watch it. I never had seen the movie in theaters so I don't know the crowds reaction to the movie. However, since this was a film that I had seen so many times before, I thought Id give this baby a review already. Now, after being more wiser and older, I still find Jumanji to be a fun ride for the family.

Plot Outline:
As a child, Alan Parrish (Robin Williams) becomes trapped inside Jumanji, a magical board game he found buried at a building site. 26 years later, Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter Shepherd (Bradley Pierce), two orphaned kids living with their aunt, discover the game in the attic of their new home and begin to play it while freeing the now grown up Alan (Robin Williams) in the process. Unfortunately, they also release a host of dangerous animals, deadly plants and an unstoppable bloodthirsty hunter. Their only hope of survival is to finish the game, whatever the risks are.

The story of Jumanji is based on Chris Van Allsburg's novel "Jumanji". The movie is based on the popular novel, but it hardly follows the novel. Sure, the main concept is their and that its still a board game the characters get stuck in, but their are also a host of things that have been either changed or altered. Having not read the novel, I cant comment whether the movie would have been better or worse had it followed the novel completely. The story of Jumanji is an interesting one simply because it isn't great, but it isn't bad either. The movie although looks like it could very much entertain some adults, is mostly targeted at kids. The movie's plot and predictable outcomes doesn't seem fit to entertain everyone, but rather kids. The animals and creatures of Jumanji seems great to kids and the movie is definitely strong at that moment, but it fails to keep the excitement up in the air for too long. With all this said, the movie is still pretty fun to watch. I mean sure its predictable and stretches too far, but its still a film you can get some enjoyment out of especially if your a kid.

The cast of Jumanji works well and is good. Robin Williams plays as Alan Parrish the main character and hes actually pretty good in his role. I'm happy to see Williams playing a role like this because he seems pretty perfect for the role. I think he makes a great choice to be playing as Alan Parrish. Bonnie Hunt plays as Sarah Whittle and shes also pretty good in her role. I enjoyed her role in the movie, but I'm sure someone else could have played the same role probably better. We also have Kirsten Dunst playing as Judy Shepherd and although shes young, she still plays her role pretty good. Bradley Pierce plays as Peter Shepherd and hes also pretty good, but rather new since I have never seen him in a movie before. Overall, I thought the cast was pretty good. I wouldn't say all their acting was great or outstanding, but I think everyone did at least a decent job in their role.

The special effects for the movie are kind of a mixed bag. When the movie came out in 1995, I'm sure people thought the visuals were pretty good and for the most part they still are. The image is clean and pretty sharp for a movie of its time. Colors seem alittle muted with skin tones not looking as great as they could be. The bad part of Jumanji's visuals are kind of in the CGI. The animals and creatures that are in Jumanji don't look that good. For example, the monkeys look pretty decent from far away, but up close, they look horrendous with their faces not even close to resembling a monkeys face. Their also doesn't seem to be enough detail on the creatures which results in fuzzy animations. I get the feeling that Jumanji could have looked much better if they had delayed the movie alittle longer and worked out the special effects.

The soundtrack in Jumanji is pretty good in every direction. Composer James Horner who also composed great hits such as Braveheart and Apollo 13 composes a good score for Jumanji that suits the film just right. Its nothing ground breaking, but it sounds good for this type of movie. We also get many other orchestral music that is made with instruments like flutes and drums that go so well with the movie. Jumanji also features some great bass most of the time. Its loud and full of surprises that should give your surround sound some work. The dialogue is also pretty good, but not crisp enough as I would have liked. Overall, a good soundtrack that does Jumanji justice.

Jumanji is a film that I had fun watching when I was kid and I still think so as of today. The story is decent, but doesn't follow the book the whole way. The cast is fun and enjoyable to watch. The special effects are kind of a mixed bag with some parts looking pretty good while others looking ugly. The music is good and has very good bass work that gives Jumanji that rocking feeling it deserves. I cant say I loved this film, but its far from a bad movie. I thought it was a fun ride while it lasted. I'm not sure that most adults will appreciate the predictable surprises, but kids will probably have a blast with this flick.

Grade: C

No comments: