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In a world that has become inundated with reimaginings of classic properties, it's difficult to find one that legitimately impresses critics. That's why Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle seems like such an interesting project; as of right now, it's doing reasonably well with the critical audience. In fact, in CinemaBlend's review of the update/reboot/indirect sequel, our own Dirk Libbey praised the film as a charismatic and exciting flick that makes up for narrative issues with sheer fun. Dirk wrote:
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle isn't one of the best movies of the year, but it is, without question, one of the most fun movies of the year. The cast is excellent, and they overcome any of the film's shortcoming through pure force of charisma. This is one video game movie that won't leave you wishing you'd spent the last two hours playing it, instead.
So it sounds like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is precisely the type of movie that you can take the family to for the holidays. While not particularly complicated or complex, it does deliver enough thrills and laughs to keep audiences in their seats. Beyond that, it seems to take on the responsibilities of serving as a video game movie (a subgenre that has suffered in recent years) and elevate the form in ways that we don't often see.
Dirk wasn't the only critic to praise Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle for the fun and charisma of its cast. The A.V. Club similarly praised the lead performances (specifically Dwayne Johnson's role as Spencer) and the film as a whole for serving as an inoffensive and generally innocent source of good-hearted fun. The A.V. Club's review reads:
If you're going to coast on charm, you could do a lot worse than Dwayne Johnson. The former pro wrestler and consummate showman has displayed a knack for engaging in a little self-deprecation when the circumference of his biceps and the wattage of his smile prove a little too intimidating, and he trots out that particular shtick to great comedic effect in the inane but harmless Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.
That sentiment was more or less echoed in IGN's review of the film. In particular, IGN pointed out that the film's story could use some work, but the sheer amount of fun injected into the action sequences and the back-and-forth between the leads helped to make up for those issues. The IGN review said:
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle brings audiences back to its classic fictional world with a fun, updated new twist on its well-worn story. So even if some of its subplots and emotional throughlines don't quite click, the action-packed fun and humor should still make it worth your price of admission.
However, not every review of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has offered up the same degree of praise for the charismatic film. Specifically, The New York Times took a much more scathing approach, opting to classify the Jumanji update as a knock-off of older and better adventure films of a similar ilk like Raiders of the Lost Ark, while also failing to be quite as funny as it thinks it is. The New York Times review said:
Their adventure often asks, "What would Steven Spielberg do?" It then answers poorly. (The movie's director, Jake Kasdan, happens to be the son of Lawrence Kasdan, who worked as a screenwriter with Mr. Spielberg on Raiders of the Lost Ark.) The performances by Mr. Johnson, Mr. Hart and Mr. Black seem informed by the conviction that if they amuse themselves, they will also amuse others. They are not entirely wrong, but they are also not sufficiently right. Ms. Gillan, the lesser-known quantity of the group, has to work harder as the geeky teen comes to enjoy living, even if temporarily, in a bombshell adult package. She does commendable work both satirizing, and also fulfilling, a sexist conception.