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Film Review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (and 4DX)

In this review, I will not only talk about my opinion on this film, but also seeing a film in 4DX. Read on after my rating of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle to hear my opinion on the newest technology.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a 2017 action adventure film directed by Jake Kasdan. A standalone sequel to the original released in 1995, this film stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas and Bobby Cannavale. The film is also a tribute to Robin Williams, star of the original film, who died in 2014.

Admittedly, I have not seen the original film this movie is based on. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle doesn’t act like a typical sequel where the film follows on from the original source. It also doesn’t act as a reboot, as a different story is told in a different manner. The best way to categorise this film is as a tribute. It takes the aspects of the original film, and makes a completely new one out of it. This is also touching as it has been said by the cast that it is for the late and great Robin Williams. This gives the film a little more heart to it.
When I saw the trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, I was expecting a fun, light-hearted film. That is exactly what I got out of this. This film is simple yet clever in its presentation, and through that gets to have a lot of fun with the characters, themes and setting of the story.
Let’s start with the characters. They are the most stereotypical, basic characters you can possibly have in a film. Yet, somehow, it works brilliantly. This is because the film utilises the cliches and turn them around through the characters inside the video game of Jumanji. The actors really got to have a lot of fun with this, especially Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black. Johnson’s character is regarded as a “hero”, brave and strong. However, the teenager inside this character is a geek that is afraid of many things. This contrast works brilliantly in seeing Johnson play a softer, geeky character. Black is an overweight middle-aged cartographer, but trapped inside him is a teenage girl who is obsessed with herself. This is also a massive contrast between the two characters and Black does a fantastic job portraying the feminine persona.
The film also had a lot of fun with the setting and theme of a video game world. There are moments when you believe that Jumanji could be a real world, but then the film throws you some extra information. One brilliant example that anyone that plays video games would understand is the laws of NPC (non-playable characters). These characters only serve one purpose and are coded for certain responses, so any unique information will not click with them. The film also goes into a sub-plot about the life system, and that each character has three lives (as is the case with a lot of video games). This is helped by Johnson’s character as he is a fan of video games and can use that knowledge to his advantage.
With some brilliant characters, there is one character that I felt was severely lacking, and that was the villain played by Cannavale. Somehow surrounded by 2D characters, he felt the flattest of them all. There was no compelling arc for him, other than just to be a villain because there was a need for a villain. I felt the film could have had more fun with the villain aspect, considering that this is set in a video game and every good game needs a good villain. I was expecting a massive boss battle, or a death scene and there was none of that.
Overall this film isn’t revolutionary, but is definitely a lot of fun. The characters are cliched but it works, and you will get teleported into this world filled with action and adventure. At the end, you will wish you didn’t have to leave the video game as that is where the movie shines. 

Now, onto my opinion of 4DX. For those who are confused about the term, 4DX creates an experience that stimulates all five senses, which uses mass amounts of technology to cover all basis. In a 4DX screening, there are high-tech motion seats as well as special effects that include bubbles, wind, water, scents, smoke and flashing lights. There are health and safety regulations that come with this technology, so please read up on them before you decide to go to one of these screenings.
I have heard bad things about these screenings in the fact that they seem cheap and distracting. I think this comes down to the film that is being shown in this format. For the likes of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, it works brilliantly. It just made the video game aspect of coming to life more realistic, and didn’t take away anything from the movie. In fact, I think it added to the experience.
It wasn’t constant motion and effects. In fact, the majority of the time there was not much happening except the odd shuffle or light. The big moments are when the technology shines, and that comes in the form of tense action sequences or battles. The water could have gotten annoying, but it was only used twice in this film and caused no disturbance to me. The only issue with the water is that it splashes onto my 3D glasses which is kind of a nuisance.
Yes, 4DX is an expensive experience for the casual cinema-goer. However, I own a Cineworld black card which makes the price of only £4.20 for a 3D 4DX movie well worth the price. As it is my local cinema that has this special screen as well, I will definitely be going to see movies in 4DX a lot more.

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