Jumanji 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
“A game for those who seek to find, a way to leave their world behind.” As a lover of board games, this line from the original 1995 film JUMANJI never failed to intrigue me. The concept of a board game coming to life was one of the reasons this movie was one of my guilty pleasure films when I was younger. Even today, when I open up a new board game with an interesting premise, I have a flashback to this film and (sometimes) secretly hope that someone has made a board game that somehow has the ability to physically transfer me to another world. A ridiculous thought, but maybe science and magic can someday make that happen for me.
JUMANJI starts off by introducing us to a young Alan Parrish and Sarah Whittle, who are just kids who stumble upon a board game buried under a construction site. After they open it up and take their turns, one of them is pulled into the board game while the other runs off with an eventual mental illness. Flash forward 20 years and we are now back in the Parrish manor with two new kids Judy and Peter Shepherd (Kirsten Dunst and Bradley Pierce). They too stumble upon this obscure game and end up setting it up to play. When one of them rolls a dice and a crazy man who has lived in the jungle for the past 20 years stumbles out, they realize that they may be in over their heads.
The late, great Robin Williams was in many fantastic films during his heyday, and although many thinks that JUMANJI was just an unfortunate blip on his resume, I find his performance in this film funny, endearing and full of emotion. Had anyone else played the part of Alan Parrish, it just wouldn’t be the same. William’s mixture of humor, action and sincerity was what made this movie shine despite all of its flaws.
As fun and nostalgic as JUMANJI is to me, it has really not withstood the test of time. No, there are no electronics that date this gem, all of the misfortunes are due to the special effects, or more lack thereof. Considering it was made in the mid-90’s before CGI took over Hollywood, the film did a pretty decent job of bringing “the jungle” to the modern world through scenes like the mansion being take over by vines, marshes and floods. Sadly, it’s the creepy animal animatronics with digital faces and giant, unrealistic, plastic-like spiders that really show the age and time of when this film was made. Plus, the dialogue wasn’t that fantastic and there were some parts of the movie that were just a big over the top ridiculous, but these quirks just add to the charm.
JUMANJI is one of those films that I have a hard time defending to the naysayers, because it isn’t a super great film, however, it will always hold a special place in my heart. Robin William’s performance alone is worth revisiting this film, plus who doesn’t love a film about a board game that sucks you in and gives you the experience of your life?
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: To grain or not to grain? That is the question when it comes to catalog titles getting the 4K treatment. The problem is that you can’t get anyone to agree on whether or not maintaining the natural grain of film is good or bad and so if a studio applies some serious DNR to a title for the 4K release (ala TERMINATOR 2), half the fans out there are going to blow a gasket that they’re not preserving the look of the film. On the other hand, if you don’t apply any DNR to a film, ala JUMANJI, half the population isn’t going to buy it because it doesn’t look that much better than its Blu-ray counterpart. It’s a tough position to be in and another reasons studios are so slow in releasing catalog titles on new formats. But I digress. JUMANJI makes its way to 4K UHD just in time for the reboot to hit theaters and this is clearly the best the film has ever looked. But keeping in mind this film is 20+ years old, you should expect a fair amount of grain and saturated colors. I never thought JUMANJI looked very good on Blu-ray, mainly because even in bright scenes, the film looked darker than it should. That holds true on the 4K. If this is one you have on repeat and enjoy watching, then I think an upgrade would make sense. But if you’re only a casual fan, I probably wouldn’t bother.
Audio: On the other hand, the Dolby Atmos track is a very nice upgrade. JUMANJI has some great, loud scenes where the Atmos track really kicks in.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no special features exclusive to the 4K, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Commentary: This is a commentary from the special effects crew that gives some interesting insight into this class.
Sneak Peek of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (3:13): This is really just a preview for the new movie disguised as a featurette. Very tricky.
Gag Reel (5:19): Some humorous outtakes from the cast.
Deleted Scenes (1:47): Two new scenes entitled The Company with Soul and Merry Christmas.
Making Jumanji: The Realm of Imagination: From both the 2011 and 2015 releases.
Jumanji Motion Storybook as Read by Author Chris Van Allsburg: From the 2015 release.
SFX Featurette: Lions and Monkeys and Pods…Oh My!: From both the 2011 and 2015 releases.
Bringing Down the House: From both the 2011 and 2015 releases.
Jumanji: The Animated Series: From the 2015 release.
Storyboard Comparisons: From both the 2011 and 2015 releases.
The Extreme Book of Nature (5:48): Broken down into small featurettes that give a look at the various creatures in the film.
Ancient Diversions (14:21): An instructional video on how to perform some basic magic tricks that include: Disappearing Paper, Invisible Ink, Life After Death, Magic String, Severed Finger, and Mind Reading.