Starring: Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt
Director: Joe Johnston
Running Time: 104 mins
Jumanji is an American film about a boy who finds a mysterious board game in 1969, and subsequently becomes trapped inside. 26 years later, two children who have moved into his house find the game, and bring him back to stop the chaos created by the game.
This is exactly the film you expect to be: a light, mystical and action-packed 90s family movie. It’s not a hugely exciting blockbuster, and the special effects don’t hold up at all well twenty years later, but with four entertaining central performances, the film is lively enough to keep you engaged throughout.
Let’s start with the best part of Jumanji, and that’s the acting. The film centres on four main characters, played by Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Bradley Pierce and Kirsten Dunst. Of them all, Williams is definitely the best, putting in a classically energetic performance that helps to bring out the best in the film’s fun concept. Bonnie Hunt is strong alongside him, whilst a young Kirsten Dunst impresses with a well-held and convincing performance throughout.
The premise for this film is its main draw, and for the most part, it works pretty well. Joe Johnston does a good job to make it as convincing as possible, particularly when showing the 26 year jump between 1969 and the present day, something that meant I could have a lot more fun with the film than I initially expected.
However, there are still a lot of problems with Jumanji that mean it’s not the most outstanding family blockbuster. For one, its plot is all over the place, and as the film unfolds, we’re introduced to more and more characters that play a series of disjointed roles within the plot, often distracting you from the most fun part of the film, watching the characters play the game and battle its consequences.
What’s more is that the special effects just aren’t good enough. In a post-Jurassic Park world, the CGI in this film doesn’t even seem impressive enough for 1995, and it’s something that’s extremely jarring to see again and again as we see the jungle come to life in an American suburb.
On the whole, Jumanji is often a fun family film, with strong central performances and good directing. However, it’s by no means a hugely entertaining watch, given a string of problems with its plot, and unimpressive visual effects, and that’s why it gets a 7.0 from me.