Surprisingly positive first reactions to new Jumanji call it “the biggest surprise of the holiday season”

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Hey, what pairs better with crow, white or red wine? If you wondering about my avian culinary question, it may have a little something to do with Jumanji, the upcoming sequel/reboot of the beloved 1995 Joe Johnston directed fantasy reboot starring the late, great Robin Williams. While I am a fan of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Karen Gillan – castmates Kevin Hart and Jack Black are very hit-and-miss for me – and while director Jake Kasdan is the guy who gave us the brilliant Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, the early trailers for Jumanji didn’t fill me with confidence.

Yes, this film looked like it could be fun, but it also looked like it could be a soulless CGI-driven spectacle that forgoes the heart and charm of the original for a barrage of noisy set pieces filled with Kevin Hart screams. I’ve mentioned this a few times before to which Gavin promptly pointed out that I was a big dumb poopface (maybe not in those exact words) as this film apparently looked like a cinematic blast. Well, it turns out – and it physically pains me to say this – that Gavin may have been right. At least when based on the early reactions that hit the net after the first press screening for Jumanji last night.

Now it has to be pointed out that these quick social media reactions, sent out in the heat of the moment right after a screening, tend to sway a little more positively than what a proper in-depth review would. Even so, what we’re hearing is a hell of a lot better than I was expecting. Heck, it’s even a lot better than the people who saw the movie were expecting. /Film’s Peter Sciretta has been just as pessimistic about Jumanji as I am, but even he walked out of it saying that he “was expecting the worst but have to admit the new #JUMANJI movie is a lot of fun. I’d even say it is one of the best “video game movies” ever made…”. Many people are also surprised at how well it works as a sequel that modernizes the franchise while still paying homage to the original, and there’s apparently even a very short but tasteful tribute to Williams.

Now I’ve actually filtered out the social media reactions I’ve seen thus far to just the professional critics, as they tend to be a bit more critical of these sorts of films. Even with that caveat though, things still look great as you can see below.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle also stars Nick Jonas, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Alex Wolff and Morgan Turner, and is scheduled for release on 22 December. Here’s the official synopsis:

In a brand new Jumanji adventure, the tables are turned as four teenagers are sucked into Jumanji’s world – pitted against rhinos, black mambas and an endless variety of jungle traps and puzzles. To survive, they’ll play as characters from the game: meek Spencer becomes a brave explorer (Dwayne Johnson); hulky jock Fridge becomes a tiny genius (Kevin Hart); It-girl Bethany becomes a bookworm professor (Jack Black); and unathletic Martha becomes an amazonian warrior (Karen Gillan). To beat the game and return to the real world with their lives, they’ll have to start seeing things in an entirely different way.

Last Updated: November 28, 2017

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Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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