Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
With the 90’s in the rearview mirror, it’s becoming evidence which pop culture is held near and dear to Millennials’ hearts. In 2017 we saw several 90’s remakes that either fell flat or showed that the original content deserved a fresh revision. It ranged from the dreadful and dreary POWER RANGERS to the extravagant BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Snuggly fitting in between these two extremes is JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, which could be viewed as a remake, but is more like a spiritual sequel.
The DNA is intact as the movie begins back in the mid-90’s, seemingly right after the events of the Robin Williams movie, which has little, if any, bearing on this film’s plot. We’re introduced to a young, unnamed metalhead whose father brings home the iconic Jumanji board game after discovering it on the beach. The teenager shrugs off the board game, and instead sticks to his video games. Sensing its own death by digital, the board game creates a video game cartridge inside itself. The boy awakes, finds the cartridge, pops in and is sucked into Jumanji.
Cutting ahead 20 years later, we meet the 21st century BREAKFAST CLUB, four teenagers stuck in detention and in need of an eye opening experience that’ll bring them closer together. That’ll come in the form of those familiar jungle drums and the discovery of the Jumanji video game cartridge. While the original was about bringing Jumanji into our world, WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE is about transporting the teenagers into the world of Jumanji. But instead of their own teenage bodies, they take on avatars played by Johnson, Gillan, Hart and Black.
While Johnson and Hart’s chemistry didn’t work for me in CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, it worked exceptionally well in WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, thanks to two other actors being included on the shenanigans. It also helps that Johnson and Hart are never allowed to overwhelm a scene, and in effect carry it. Everyone has a fair shake in every scene, bringing their own strengths to the table to help mask some of the weaknesses each also brings along. Because of that, WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE stands tall through its actors, but that ground they’re standing on is a bit shaky.
With five cooks contributing to the script, WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE can feel like it’s lost in the jungle after firing on all cylinders. There are moments where someone in the writing room was an avid video gamer and understood how to transition tropes from video games to the silver screen. However there are instances that feel like a Baby Boomer that’s still trying to understand what all the fuss is about surrounding video games. But that’s not the only concerning aspect of WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.
If the movie is in the jungle, where are all the animals, massive tarantulas, monsoons and other amplified nature horror that we saw in the previous film? We have a heavily CGIed stampede scene and one moment with a snake, but we never feel like our heroes are overwhelmed and scared by their surroundings. Instead the villain a human video game boss with jungle powers. WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE sometimes embraces the wrong video game tropes, but you’re likely to forget about it when you pick up on some of its spot on parodies and get swept up in the popcorn entertainment of it all
If it wasn’t for an outstanding cast selection, WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE would have felt like unnecessarily trip back to the 90’s. While watching this in theaters, I wondered if people who had seen the previous would embrace the film and if those who hadn’t seen it would still be able to understand the film’s self-referential humor and plot devices. I think it’s safe to say they did since nearly one billion dollars at the box office speaks for itself. With an all but assured sequel, let’s hope they make the third a respectable film for a surprisingly new franchise.
Note: the 4K portion of this review was done by Brad Sturdivant
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: I’m slightly disappointed by this 4K. It’s not bad by any means, but I supposed I was expecting something that would blow me away. Instead, this falls into the standard 2K upconvert category, where settings and closeups look slightly better and the HDR (including Dolby Vision) adds some color depth. But there’s nothing that blew me away when comparing it to the Blu-ray. The Blu-ray looks fantastic for the format and the 4K is only able to make slight improvements. The video alone might not be enough to merit the upgrade…
Audio: If ever there was a disc that needed its Dolby Atmos track, it’s JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE. The film sounds amazing and you’re probably going to crouch down a few times during the rhino chase scene. This is a wonderful upgrade over the DTS track on the Blu-ray.
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:
Journey Through the Jungle: The Making of Jumanji (14:55): This is a very high level making-of featurette hosted by Nigel Billingsley (Rhys Darby) himself. It’s geared for younger audiences, but touches on some of the standard making-of elements.
Featurettes (21:38): Four kid-targeted featurettes cover the cast, the stunts and another that has the cast talk about how much they love the original film.
Gag Reel and Music Video