Jumanji Movie Review
The story begins some 26 years earlier, when young Alan (Robin Williams) and Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) unearth the game and start playing. On Alan's first move, he finds himself sucked into the game as a prisoner, only to be released when the game is continued in 1995 by Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Michael Pierce). Unfortunately, the ill effects of the game disappear only when it is finished, so the three track down Sarah, who, after years of therapy, has finally come to grips with the shock of seeing Alan vanish, and they continue where they left off.
The rest of the film unfurls the wacky effects the game has on the players and the town, until the climactic conclusion is reached. Unfortunately, along the way, the film fails miserably at building up any semblance of suspense (it's pretty obvious how this thing is going to end), and relies on melodrama to try to make us care about the characters, resulting in a sloppy, over-dramatic plot that doesn't really get going for half an hour. Even the precocious kids are basically annoying. While much of the film is funny and pleasant to watch, the overall result is a middling success.
But you don't go to a movie like this for the gripping plot, and everyone's question is, "How are the effects?" Well, they're not so great. Compared to the groundbreaking Toy Story, Jumanji looks downright embarrassing. Few of the computer-generated animals, especially the plastic-looking monkeys, come across as even remotely realistic, although the filmmakers really seem to have tried their best. Apparently, the technology just isn't ready yet.
In the end, Jumanji looks like it wanted to be the next Roger Rabbit--a semi-animated film for the whole family. But in taking things too seriously, the movie lacks that ingenious, eye-opening "spark" that's absolutely critical here, and it ends up being another film that's basically just for kids.
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