New UK Trailer Released For ‘Fighting With My Family’

Fighting With My Family is a comedy-drama written, executive producedand directed by Emmy, BAFTA and Golden Globe award winner Stephen Merchant, based on the true personal story of WWE Superstar Paige and her family of professional wrestlers.

The film is inspired by the Channel 4 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Familyand tells the story of reformed gangster and former wrestler Ricky, his wife Julia, daughter Saraya and son Zak who make a living performing in tiny venues across the country. Ricky and Julia want a better life for their children and when brotherand sister get the chance to audition for WWE, it seems the family dream is coming true and all their troubles will be solved. However, Saraya and Zak are about to learn that becoming a WWE Superstar demands more than they ever imagined possible as athletes and siblings. Wrestling has always kept this family together –but now it could tear them apart.

Directed by: Stephen Merchant

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Stephen Merchant, Vince Vaughn, and Jack Lowden

Release Date: 1st March 2019

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Dwayne Johnson Is The Rock Again In The First Trailer For Stephen Merchant’s ‘Fighting With My Family’

Fighting With My Family is a comedy-drama written, executive produced and directed by Emmy, BAFTA and Golden Globe award winner Stephen Merchant, based on the true personal story of WWE Superstar Paige and her family of professional wrestlers”

The film is inspired by the Channel 4 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family and tells the story of reformed gangster and former wrestler Ricky, his wife Julia, daughter Saraya and son Zak who make a living performing in tiny venues across the country. Ricky and Julia want a better life for their children and when brother and sister get the chance to audition for WWE, it seems the family dream is coming true and all their troubles will be solved. However, Saraya and Zak are about to learn that becoming a WWE Superstar demands more than they ever imagined possible as athletes and siblings.

Wrestling has always kept this family together — but now it could tear them apart.

Directed by: Stephen Merchant

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Stephen Merchant, Vince Vaughn, and Jack Lowden

Release Date: 1st March 2019

Skyscraper

Year: 2018
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Chin Han, Noah Taylor

Written by Tom Sheffield

Dwayne Johnson has been a very busy man these past few years, from his fallings out with Vin Diesel on the set of the latest ‘Fast & Furious’ films, lending his voice to a demi-god in ‘Moana’, chasing a giant gorilla in ‘Rampage’, and last year playing a major role in one of the biggest surprise hits of the year, ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’. Personally, I’m less familiar with his recent work on the small screen, but I’m assured he’s very busy there too with the likes of the successful ‘Ballers’. ‘Skyscraper’ takes Johnson to dizzying new heights (literally) but still somehow finds itself on the same level as ‘San Andreas’ and ‘Baywatch’, in the fact it’s pretty forgettable despite Johnson’s best efforts to secure action star status. 

Will Sawyer (Johnson) is an ex-vet who lost his leg during trying to negotiate in a  hostage situation 10 years prior to the events of the film. Sawyer is now the head of security for the world’s tallest skyscraper, ‘The Pearl’. Sawyer’s family currently reside in the tower whilst he works on the building and they’re the only people to do so other than the skyscraper’s creator and owner, Zhao Long Ji (Han). When a group of terrorists set the 96th floor ablaze, Johnson does everything in his power to get back into the burning skyscraper to rescue his wife (Campbell), son and daughter.

Once again, Johnson puts everything he has into this film and his charm and charisma shine (which is what we’ve now come to expect from him), but this time it just isn’t enough to save this towering inferno of a mess. The action in this blockbuster is few and far between, with the highlight action piece coming just before the start of the second act which involves Johnson hopping around a kitchen trying to fend off an attacker. It’s a well-choreographed fight in a tiny space, which had given me hope there would be more to come, but the only action sequence to really rival it comes at the very end, so it’s quite the wait for something other than Johnson running and jumping around.

The CGI for ‘The Pearl’ was absolutely stunning, and the building looked gorgeous in every shot. Thurber did a fantastic job capturing the sheer record-breaking scale of the building in some of the exterior shots, which included a lot of footage from helicopters circling the building. Likewise, the interior of the building was incredibly well detailed but it feels like we didn’t get to see all that much of it outside the introduction at the beginning of the film. My favourite room of them all is the Pearl that sits on top of the Skyscraper itself – and if you do give the film a shot then I’m sure you’ll enjoy the scenes that take place in there just as much as I did.

In the run-up to its release, it felt like the trailers really were giving too much away but obviously, we couldn’t know for sure. Well, they did… The big moments from the second act all mostly feature in the trailers, with some clips of the third, so we know Sawyer’s big risks will eventually pay off, which means the film lost its sense of danger for me and the ‘will he make it, won’t he make it’ scenes have no real tension or impact.

If you’re a fan of Johnson and his recent escapades then you’ll likely know what you’re in for with ‘Skyscraper’. You can really tell he’s a family man in real life through his portrayal of Sawyer, a man who would do anything to keep his family safe no matter what the cost. Johnson and Campbell have a great on-screen chemistry, which really makes the family aspect of the whole film one of its (very few) strong points.

As far as Summer blockbusters go, this film just about reaches entertaining levels. It strays in and out of the silly territory with some of its dialogue and Sawyer’s questionable methods, but because it never once embraces this aspect and instead continues to opt for a serious tone, you can’t help but put your head to your palm and shake your head a little. Had the film not taken itself so seriously I feel it could have been a lot more enjoyable, and some particular lines of dialouge would have come off less cheesy and there’d have been fewer eye rolls.

Despite a promising premise, the end result feels very underwhelming, with Johnson being the only reason I stayed sat in my seat until the very end.

Tom’s Rating

2-5

 

 

Action Packed New ‘Skyscraper’ Trailer Released!

“Global icon Dwayne Johnson leads the cast of Legendary’s ‘Skyscraper’ as former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Ford, who now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in China he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he’s been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who is trapped inside the building…above the fire line.”

Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Pablo Schreiber, Neve Campbell, Byron Mann

Release Date: July 12th, 2018

Rampage

Year: 2018
Directed by: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Written by Megan Williams

 

Video game-to-film adaptations have always had a bad reputation, and have rarely been accurate to their source material. However, the arrival of new film ‘Rampage’ might be able to destroy that stigma.

‘Rampage’ is based on the 1986 arcade game of the same name, where you have to control a giant gorilla, named George, a giant crocodile-type creature called Lizzie or a giant werewolf, called Ralph, and destroy as much of the game’s city landscape as possible to proceed to the next level.

After seeing the film, I can definitely say that this is the most accurate video game adaptation so far.

The film adaptation follows Davis (played by Dwayne Johnson), a primatologist and ex-military personal, and his friend George the Gorilla. When George is hit by a scientific experiment that has fallen from the sky, he starts to rapidly grow in size and aggression. Desperate to save his friend, Davis travels to Chicago in hopes of finding a cure and discovers that this same experiment may have also mutated a wolf and a crocodile…and citywide destruction ensues.

The performances are great: Dwayne Johnson and Naomi Harris play very likeable and interesting characters, and they work very well on-screen together. Even though Johnson seems to be in his comfort zone with this role, it looks like he had fun making this film, and I’ve grown to liking him more as an actor with every film I see him in. His on-screen chemistry with Jeffrey Dean Morgan was very charming to watch too (even if Morgan’s accent did get annoying very quickly).

The friendship between Davis and George was believable and, at times, heart-warming which made me care for the characters when the film’s storyline really kicks into gear; I wanted these characters to survive the chaos that was happening on-screen.

While the CGI was cartoon-ish at times (especially when focusing on George), the creature designs for Ralph the Wolf and Lizzie the Crocodile were fantastic and unique-looking. The soundtrack was also fantastic and perfectly worked with the visuals. On top of this, it was memorable, which I find rare in action films.

Overall, ‘Rampage’ is a fun-filled action adventure, and is probably the most accurate video game adaptation to date.

Megan’s Rating: 8.0/10

Weekend BO Predictions: ‘Rampage’ vs. ‘A Quiet Place’ 2: Electric Booglaoo

Written by Dapo Olowu

Three new films are released wide this weekend in the US, led by Amy Schumer’s feel-good comedy, ‘I Feel Pretty’. Not forgetting, it’s also another Box Office title-fight between ‘Rampage’ and ‘A Quiet Place’, mirroring last week’s close encounter. Will The Rock deliver the knockout again, or will ‘A Quiet Place’ finally prevail?

So, what’s opening this weekend?

Opening in 3,000 cinemas is ‘I Feel Pretty’, the PG-13 comedy that cost a pricey $32m and completes the trilogy of Amy Schumer-led films in recent years. After the success of 2015’s ‘Trainwreck’, and the disappointment of 2017’s ‘Snatched’ (both R-rated), it’s safe to say that STXfilms (of ‘Bad Moms’ fame) will be hoping ‘I Feel Pretty’ continues where ‘Trainwreck’ left off, and lands big.

However, it’s a hard one to predict. Its poor 35% on Rotten Tomatoes won’t allow for the greatest word-of-mouth, and Amy Schumer’s waning popularity means that she isn’t as big of a draw as she was 3 years ago (all-in-all, making for a weak opening). But, on the other hand, being rated PG-13 opens it up to a wider audience and we should never underestimate the allure of original comedic content, especially in the aftermath of ‘Game Night’ and ‘Blockers’. Our prediction? The young, female audience that ‘I Feel Pretty’ is aiming for might have already had their fill in the last couple of weeks, and the critics aren’t pulling their punches with this one, so we’re thinking an opening of $13.5m.

What do you get when you make an R-rated sequel to a 2002 cult classic, that made under $20m domestically, and is opening in only 2,000 cinemas? Well, you get Jay Chandrasekhar’s ‘Super Troopers 2’, the police-comedy that’s even harder to predict than ‘I Feel Pretty’. Seriously, we’ve been left scratching our heads at the comparable obscurity; ‘Zoolander 2’ is too popular, ‘Johnny English: Reborn’ isn’t popular enough. The only thing I was left with, was comparing this to 2016’s unfortunate flop ‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping’, which opened to $4.7m in early July. The lack of ST2’s summer release is offset by its cult following, so we’re set on roughly the $5m mark in its release.

Finally, this weekend gives us ‘Traffik’, starring Omar Epps and Paula Patton. By opening in only 1,000 cinemas, its gross is severely limited, especially as it doesn’t even have the luxury of being based on a book, like 2014’s ‘Addicted’ that opened with an impressive $7.5m from just 850 cinemas. With ‘Traffik’, I’m using the per-cinema average of another recent small release thriller that heavily featured African-Americans: ‘Til Death To Us Part’ (2017). From 560 cinemas, it made on average $2,700 in its first week, which will give ‘Traffik’ a very respectable (and possibly optimistic) $2.7m in its opening weekend.

What else is on?

It’s round 2 of ‘A Quiet Place’ vs. ‘Rampage’ for the number one spot again – both have been near-identical in their daily grosses since last weekend. While many expect the child-friendly ‘Rampage’ to have made more money over the weekend, when kids aren’t in school, ‘A Quiet Place’ has held its own very well, even against competition from ‘Truth or Dare’. After all considerations, we’re going with ‘A Quiet Place’ to win this contest in a close affair.

After ‘Truth or Dare’ surprised us last weekend, with a brilliant gross of $18.7m, normal service should resume with the horror looking to run similarly to ‘Happy Death Day’ and ‘Unfriended’, giving it a pretty big second-weekend drop of over 60%. These ‘teenage’ horror movies are usually front-loaded, so don’t be surprised if it struggles to even hit a 2x domestic gross/opening weekend multiplier – ‘Happy Death Day’ (2.14x) and ‘Unfriended’ (2.05x) barely did.

Ready Player One’ continues to haemorrhage cinemas and could even lose another 200-400 this week, leading to a potential 50% drop in grossing. Meanwhile, ‘Black Panther’ continues its majestic run and will remain firmly in the top 10 this week, continuing its trend of small weekend drops. The latter can’t be said for ‘Blockers’, which will face big competition for viewers with the release of ‘I Feel Pretty’, and may see an even larger weekend drop than last week’s 48%.

Finally, Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ will look to at least remain stable after a poor showing last week. The number of cinemas it showed in rose by 350%, but its weekend grossing only increased by 20%, a poor number whichever way you look at it. We’re thinking it’ll play more like Fantastic Mr. Fox did in 2009, after its wide release, and will have a pretty substantial drop.

Check out our full predictions below. Do you agree or disagree? Let us know on Twitter by @’ing our handle @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

Rank Last Week’s Rank Film US Gross so far Budget Jumpcut’s prediction Weekend drop Week no. Deadline’s prediction BoxOfficeMojo’s prediction Variety’s prediction
1 2 A Quiet Place $108m $17m $22.4m -32% 3 $20m-$21m $21m $20m-$25m
2 1 Rampage $43.7m $120m $21.1m -41% 2 $20m-$21m $17m $18m-$20m
3 I Feel Pretty $32m $13.5m 1 $15m $13m-$15m $15m
4 3 Truth or Dare $21.7m $3.5m $7.1m -62% 2 $7.5m
5 4 Ready Player One $117.8m $175m $5.8m -50% 4 $7m
6 5 Blockers $40.4m $21m $5.1m -53% 3 $6.5m
7 Super Troopers 2 $4.4m $5m 1 $6m $6m-$7m $6m
8 6 Black Panther $675.9m $200m $3.9m -33% 10 $3.8m
9 Traffik $2.7m 1 $3m-$4m $3.5m $3m-$4m
10 7 Isle of Dogs $20.5m $2.5m -55% 5 $3.6m

Weekend BO Results: ‘Rampage’ Triumphs In A Tight Race For First Place

Written by Dapo Olowu

There’s something about a mid-April release that really proves Dwayne Johnson’s box office prowess. Exactly a year ago, he was leading the way with $98m, alongside Vin Diesel and others, in ‘Fate of the Furious’ –  a film which had the biggest worldwide opening weekend of all time with $541.9m. Two years before that, he was again topping the charts in the US with ‘Fast 7′. This year, it was a little more reserved, with ‘Rampage ‘ making (as predicted by yours truly) the solid start of $35.8m to claim top spot.

With an A- on Cinemascore, and an 81% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes (although 50% by critics), Warner Bros will be confident in the positive word-of-mouth surrounding the film in upcoming weeks; it’ll need this if it wants to remain in cinemas, and possibly reach the $100m domestic mark. It’s very optimistic, especially as ‘Infinity War’ opens in a week, but a 2.78x domestic total/opening weekend multiple isn’t impossible – just look at another of The Rock’s flicks, ‘San Andreas’.

Coming in at a close second was ‘A Quiet Place’. Its $33m gross (don’t forget, in its second weekend) was just a shade below the opening of another much-heralded horror from last year, ‘Get Out’ ($33.4m). With $100m now in the bank from the US, and $151.7m worldwide, ‘A Quiet Place’ is looking to become a hugely profitable film after just 2 weeks of release, especially with the budget only being between $17m-$21m (depending on where you look). The real question, then, is how much can ‘A Quiet Place’ make? My unofficial prediction, based on how similar it’s performing to 2017’s ‘Split’, is around $170m. Nothing quiet (heh) about that.

Another horror is next, and it’s ‘Truth or Dare’, raking in an impressive $18.7m. The moral of the story here is pretty obvious: never write-off Blumhouse. The 15% on Rotten Tomatoes had us fooled into thinking an opening of around $12m was in play, but the under-25 target audience really ate this up. A different type of horror to ‘A Quiet Place’, this is a good example of 2 same-genre films not necessarily cannibalising each other. But, its B- on Cinemascore may indicate that it won’t stick around to cannibalise anything else either.

‘Ready Player One’ saw a 53.2% drop from last weekend (for an $11.5m weekend), much more substantial than the 41% drop in its first weekend. Although, we can attribute this to ‘Rampage’s opening, as well as Spielberg’s fantasy movie losing nearly 600 cinemas this weekend, so, this isn’t the big news. What’s really interesting here, is how ‘Ready Player One’ has nearly hit $500m worldwide, a massive figure, bolstered by its incredible popularity in China; according to Deadline, it’s now just shy of $200m over there. Wow.

Rounding off the top 5 is ‘Blockers‘, the comedy that’s starting to get a bit crowded amongst the general blockbuster noise. Its $10.8m this weekend isn’t at all bad, but you just get the feeling that more could’ve been made if Universal didn’t release ‘Truth or Dare’, a film targeted at the same young, female audience, only a week after. To make matters worse, Amy Schumer’s comedy ‘I Feel Pretty’ opens next weekend – so, let’s just hope its PG-13 rating means less of an audience overlap, for ‘Blockers’ sake.

‘Black Panther’ drops out of the top 5 for the first time since it came onto our screens 9 weeks ago. It only fell by 33.9%, giving it a current domestic total of $674.2m and a worldwide cume of $1.309bn. We’re hoping that ‘Infinity War’ may give the film the boost it needs, to not only creep past $700m in the US but also past ‘The Last Jedi’s $1.33bn worldwide number, to become the 9th biggest film of all time.

‘Isle of Dogs’ grossed a very disappointing $5.5m this weekend, just a 20% increase from last weekend even though it opened in 1,400 more cinemas. The Christian drama ‘I Can Only Imagine’ finally saw a major drop of near 50% after losing over 300 cinemas, but with $75m in the bank, it’s been a more than satisfying run. Tyler Perry’s ‘Acrimony’s $3.7m weekend gives it a total of $37.8m, and will probably end up just short of his 2017 effort, ‘Boo 2! A Madea Halloween’, which raked in a $47.3m domestic total. Finally, period-drama ‘Chappaquidick’, originally meant for a late 2017 ‘for the awards’ release, came in at number 10, with $3.1m in its second weekend.

The top 10 box office report for the weekend is below. Next weekend sees ‘I Feel Pretty’ starring Amy Schumer, ‘Super Troopers 2′ (the sequel to the 2001 cult classic), and ‘Traffik’ starring Paula Patton and Omar Epps, all opening in the US. What do you think will challenge ‘Rampage‘ for the top spot?

Rank Last Week Rank Film Weekend Gross Total Gross Weekend drop Jumpcut’s prediction Difference Week number
1 Rampage $35.8m $35.8m $36m $0.2m 1
2 1 A Quiet Place $33.0m $100m -34.3% $32.2m $0.8m 2
3 Truth or Dare $18.7m $18.7m $12.5m $6.2m 1
4 2 Ready Player One $11.5m $114.9m -53.2% $13.5m $2m 3
5 3 Blockers $10.8m $37.4m -47.6% $10.8m $0 2
6 4 Black Panther $5.8m $674.2m -33.6% $6.1m $0.3m 9
7 10 Isle of Dogs $5.5m $18.9m +20% $10m $4.5m 4
8 6 I Can Only Imagine $4.1m $75.3m -46.9% $5.7m $1.6m 5
9 5 Tyler Perry’s Acrimony $3.7m $37.8m -56.4% $3.8m $0.1m 3
10 7 Chappaquiddick $3.1m $11m -46.9% 2

Weekend BO Predictions: ‘Rampage’ Aims For The Numer One Spot

Written by Dapo Olowu

The top ten films in the US box office will have four new wide releases to contend with this weekend, including The Rock’s new action movie ‘Rampage’. After ‘A Quiet Place’s ‘ huge $50m opening last week, will it manage to keep the top spot for a second weekend in a row, or will Dwayne Johnson’s monkey madness run riot?

So, what’s opening this weekend?

After ‘Jumanji’ was officially confirmed as Sony’s biggest ever domestic hit (beating Raimi’s Spider-Man’s total of $403.71m with $403.74m and counting), Dwayne Johnson: the man, the legend, The Rock crashes into 4,000 cinemas with the $120m, ‘Rampage’. The loose adaptation of the video game of the same name also stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jake Lacy, as well as Oscar-nominee, Naomie Harris.

When it comes to giant monkeys, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ immediately springs to mind as the type of movie to base ‘Rampage’ predictions around. Kong’s $61m opening, however, is way beyond what The Rock’s newest film is looking to make – so, we’re predicting a much meeker Friday-to-Sunday start for the Gorilla-flick with around $36m, similar to 2016’s ‘Tarzan’. This should be enough for number one though, unless ‘A Quiet Place’ springs in with a loud (heh) surprise. Star power is the name of the game here, so with DJ arguably being the most bankable actor in the world at the moment, we expect to see much bigger numbers overseas.

Next on the list of newbies is Blumhouse’s (‘Get Out’, ‘Insidious, Split’) horror film, ‘Truth or Dare’. With 18% on Rotten Tomatoes, ‘Truth or Dare’ comes out just a week after ‘A Quiet Place’, which’ll most probably hurt the former over the latter. Though, a nice little selling point for them is the cast; with young talent like ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Lucy Hale, and ‘Teen Wolf’s’ Tyler Posey, Truth or Dare will look to draw in the under-25 crowd this weekend and, honestly, we reckon it’ll play similar to 2017’s ‘The Bye Bye Man’ with around $12.5m. It was only made for $3.5M anyway, so with its cliff-side drop-off next week, it’ll at least break-even.

Although not technically a new release, ‘Isle of Dogs’ opens wide (anything over 600 cinemas) at 1,939 movie theatres, and looks to cement a place in the top 5. Will it? Not too sure, it’s a difficult one to predict. This’ll probably make around $10m this weekend but, it could go in any direction, so don’t quote us on that.

‘Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero’, the animated adventure film based on the WW1 hero-dog (nope, never heard of him either) rounds up this weekend’s new releases. Fun fact: this is the first time we’ve had 2 wide-release dog-centric movies in 12 years, since ‘Doogal’ opened a week after ‘Eight Below’ in February 2006. But, since it’s only opening in around 1,700 cinemas, we’re looking at 2016’s ‘Ratchet & Clank’ and 2017’s ‘Rock Dog’ for guidance, so, an opening of around $4m is likely.

What else is on?

‘A Quiet Place’ looks to dampen ‘Rampage’s’ #1 ambitions in its second week of showings. John Krasinski’s lauded horror should be immune to ‘Truth or Dare’ this weekend, so don’t be surprised if this continues to mirror the run of 2017’s ‘Split’ – whose 35.9% second-weekend drop would give ‘A Quiet Place’ a second-weekend total of $32.2m, more than enough for a number 2 spot.

‘Ready Player One’s biggest competition is ‘Rampage’, with both films combining sci-fi & adventure genres unlike typical horror, ‘Truth or Dare’. From this, we’re looking at a third weekend drop a little higher than last week’s 41%, for a total of $13.5m, just beating ‘Truth or Dare’ for third.

R-rated comedy, ‘Blockers’, is much safer in this aspect, so I’m looking at a second weekend total of $10.8m (a 48% drop). Our full predictions for the top ten films in the Box Office this weekend is below – we don’t check the estimates of experts before we do ours, so let’s hope it’s us that wins this round.

Rank Last Week Rank Film Budget Jumpcut prediction Weekend drop Week no. Deadline prediction BoxOfficeMojo prediction Variety prediction
1 Rampage $120m $36m 1 $35m-$40m $34m $37m-$40m
2 1 A Quiet Place $17m $32.2m -35.9% 2 $32.5m-$35m $30m-$32.5m $28m-$30m
3 2 Ready Player One $175m $13.5m -45% 3 $14m $12m-$15m
4 Truth or Dare $3.5m $12.5m 1 $14m-$16m $15m-$17m $16m
5 3 Blockers $21m $10.8m -47.6% 2 $12m-$14m $12m $12m-$15m
6 10 Isle of Dogs $10m +119.2% 4 $5m
7 4 Black Panther $200m $6.1m -30% 9 $6m
8 6 I Can Only Imagine $7m $5.7m -27% 5 $5.1m
9 Sgt. Stubby $25m $4.2m 1 $2m $1m-$3m <$5m
10 5 Tyler Perry’s Acrimony $20m $3.8m -55% 3 $3.6m

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Year: 2017
Director: Jake Kasdan
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Morgan Jeanette Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, Bobby Cannavale

Written by Rhys Bowen Jones

Back when it was first announced, I couldn’t help but ask the question “did this really need to happen?” I have an affinity for the original ‘Jumanji’ an old-school adventure film with one of my favourite actors of all time, Robin Williams, in an against-type role with fun characters and a great premise. Sure, it’s cheesy and the effects are a little dodgy, but it was a film I grew up with (I was 3 when it came out), and for my money it still holds up to this day as a fun film. ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ felt completely unnecessary, unless it could bring something new to the table. I’m happy to report that my initial fears were left unfounded as I had a very good time with ‘Welcome to the Jungle.”

We start with four high school students Spencer (Wolff), Fridge (Blain), Bethany (Iseman), and Martha (Turner) finding themselves in detention for various misdemeanours. They are tasked with de-stapling old magazines to be made safe for recycling in the dark basement of the school when they discover an old games console, not unlike a classic SEGA Megadrive. It has a game already plugged in, so Spencer sets the console up on an old TV and they all agree to play to kill some time instead of doing their detention. The game in the console is, of course, Jumanji, which has metamorphosised into a video game because “who plays board games anymore?”. Such is Jumanji’s wont, the four students get literally sucked into the game and assume new roles based on their character selection. To escape, they must complete the game. Simple.

When ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ works, it really works. Our four proper leads once in the game are clearly having a boatload of fun. Dwayne Johnson is the charismatic leader but with the mind of a nervous, nerdy teen; Kevin Hart is a small, side-kick with the mind of a jock, leader-type; Karen Gillan is a badass martial artist with the mind of a self-conscious, shy teen; and Jack Black is a middle-aged cartography specialist with the mind of a popular, ‘Mean Girls’ teen. All four actors are playing somewhat against type, having to think “what would my teenage character do” in any given situation. It serves both as a functional sequel, and a pleasant coming-of-age story. ‘Welcome to the Jungle’s’ writers manage to balance this very well.

Many of the film’s highlights come from the team bickering and working together. They all have to reluctantly follow Spencer because his character is over-powered beyond belief, which creates division amongst Spencer and Fridge, but they all serve a purpose within the world. Bethany can do things the others can’t which helps them advance further in the game, the same can be said for all four of them. The film does a great job of giving every character agency and a role in the game.

2nd image

It is worth addressing, too, that given the current crowd of video game film adaptations (most recently the disastrously boring ‘Assassin’s Creed’ adaptation), ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ has stumbled into being arguably the best video game film ever. It has fun with the rules it sets for itself, it makes jokes about game clichés and embraces them, and several scenes felt reminiscent of games I’ve played in the past (‘Far Cry’, the new ‘Tomb Raider’ games).

That said, it does occasionally create new rules on the go in order to write themselves out of a situation (I can’t think of many games that allow you to “share” your lives with another character, for example), and there is the odd internal logic jump that doesn’t really make sense (no game ever forces you to have to die in order to complete a mission), but that is coming from someone who has been gaming for years. They are small nitpicks in the grand scheme of things.

Further, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ boasts a phenomenally bad villain (Cannavale), who barely even registers as a threat, and is another cause for plot-related concern. Early on, they are forced to watch a cut-scene, standard procedure in gaming, to explain the plot of the game. Later, while our heroes are traversing the jungle, it cuts to show Cannavale plotting his next move. Can our characters see this? Is the game-world alive and changing around them all the time? Again, not huge issues in the bigger picture, but they were certainly issues I raised internally.

All in all, though, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ is supremely entertaining. The film lives and dies by its four main characters and they are up to the challenge of making it as fun as they can. Karen Gillan and Jack Black are the personal standouts (I never knew the world needed a scene in which Black teaches Gillan how to flirt, but I’m all the happier for it), but all of them are great. It’s a shame about the villain and the plot-holes that show up every so often, but I had a great time watching ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ the most surprisingly good film of 2017.

Rhys’ Rating: 7.1/10