Alex Gardner
Staff Reporter
March 7, 2018


Jumanji. The beloved fantasy movie starring the late Robin Williams, Bradley Pierce, and Kirsten Dunst, filled with all things from action and adventure to love and romance. It has been a classic fictional film for well over two decades. Despite scoring low on review sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, anyone can agree that Jumanji is good for any Friday night fun. And now, twenty three years later, the long-awaited sequel has finally arrived.

Set in the modern world, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle follows four teenagers as they are forced into the video game version of the board game called Jumanji, where they will have to fight tooth and nail to survive. The twist? Instead of arriving in the jungle with their own bodies, they soon discover that they are now the video game characters they previously chose in the real world. The other twist? They only have three lives, meaning if they use all their lives in the game, they won’t have one to come back to in to real life.

So which Jumanji film was better? The original Jumanji, while still being fun and humorous at times, was clearly more grim than it’s sequel. The 1995 film started off on a bleak note when viewers found that the parents of Peter and Judy were dead. The movie never ceased its darker themes, from Allan Parish being stuck in a jungle alone for 26 years to the unleashing of several dangerous animals on the city in which Peter and Judy lived. While the movie ended on a bright note, with Peter and Judy’s parents still alive and Allan’s childhood restored, the entirety of the movie is gloomy and at times hard to watch.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle took a much lighter approach to the film, starring comedians such as Jack Black in the role of stereotypical teenage girl, Bethany, and Kevin Hart to take on the character of high school football star, Fridge. The Rock took center stage in the witty motion picture, playing the part of nerdy-geek Spencer. Nick Jonas and Karen Gillan also made an appearance, completing the all-star cast for the movie. Each cast member played a vital role in making the movie the humorous success it turned out to be. With entertaining banter and cleverly thought-out jokes, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was certainly worth the wait.

Both movies were very different from each other and were only loosely tied by a few minor connections, making it hard to decide which one claims the Jumanji throne. Jumanji earned big points for its stellar movie plot, which featured the unique idea of a board game that could cause man-eating flowers and old British men to appear out of nowhere in the middle of someone’s home. Not to mention that at some point, when Peter tries to cheat the game, he grows a monkey tail and ears to match. If that’s not originality, I don’t know what is.

Then again, the sequel had one thing that no other movie has had in the history of filmmaking: Jack Black playing a teenage girl. Yes, the Kung Fu Panda star is what made the sequel so undeniably good. His portrayal of Bethany, the popular high school beauty, was over-the-top hilarious. Black played the character so well; it made it near impossible not to walk out of the theaters with a gigantic grin on your face, thinking about his lessons in flirting and the obsession he had with his phone.

The dissection of both these magical movies has led to the conclusion that even though Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle takes home the crown for the best Jumanji movie, there is no denying that the former is still a great watch as well. If you’re looking for a supernatural-induced movie that’ll have you on the edge of your seat, the 1995 film is a great pick. And if you just want to kick-back and relax while watching Dwayne Johnson ogle his muscles, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle may be the better choice for you. Either way, you’re bound to have a good time watching any of the Jumanji movies.

Posted by Alexandra Gardner

Alex is currently a sophomore at Atholton High School and a first year student journalist for the Raider Review. She is an Atholton JV Softball player and a frequent volunteer at Drew Elementary School. In her free time, Alex enjoys reading fantasy novels and her favorite food is everything and anything with lobster.

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