Jumanji (1995)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Nostalgic, but Diminished

We all love going back and watching those films that we loved years ago. Every once in a while, we end up with one film that we remember being amazing, but after years of film history, lost some of what made it special. Surprisingly, Jumanji made the list of disappointing nostalgic films. I have seen Jumanji so many times, but not recently. Something happened, and it’s just not as good as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad all around. In fact, there are still some magnificent qualities about this film, it’s just not as perfect as it used to be in my head.

Jumanji is a mystical board game, that when played, releases a jungle world of fantasy upon the world, each with its own destructive power. Its mystic nature often calls children to find the board game, wherever it’s hidden, and lures them to start another game. The world around them crumbles worse and worse until they finish the game, which is when the madness is set to end. When Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) start the game, they had no idea what they were about to unleash, including a man who was stuck in the jungle for twenty-six years (Robin Williams), and knows how to survive in that world.

I don’t know if I can think of a more perfect example of a nostalgic film. For me, as a kid, I honestly loved this film to death. I owned the real board game based off the movie, and I watched the animated series based off the film as well…every week. I never had a bad thing to say about it…until now. No, it’s not a horrible movie by any standards, but man oh man, are those special effects awful. I remembered the CGI in the film being pretty darn decent when this film came out, and for a 1995 flick, it was decent…for a modern audience, it’s entirely laughable. The film incorporated the use of both CGI effects and animatronics for the creatures. Neither one looked more realistic, but at least the animatronics looked like they were physically present. The CGI stuff looked unfinished, undetailed, and half-hearted honestly. To tell the truth, it was a shock, and quite distracting. Then again, you have to note why I remembered the film being so great…and it wasn’t because of the special effects.

Chances are if you loved this film, you loved it because of the characters and basic concept of the story. Those characters are so loveable and so memorable. The charisma each character possesses and the chemistry they hold together is admirable, and it honestly makes the movie just as magical as the board game itself. The premise of the film is also something we have only really seen twice in film, in Jumanji and its spiritual sequel, Zathura (I’ll explain the whole spiritual sequel thing in my review of Zathura). A magical board game that brings fantasy to you…while it may have loosely borrowed some of that from the other legendary “Ouija” board game, it still made it its own thing, and it just ends up being a fun film.

Normally, my memory tells me I would rate this film so much higher, but seeing how poorly the graphics were, and how much they distracted me, my rating dipped down pretty low, but it’s still generally positive because I do honestly like this film. Nostalgia may be the factor that saves this film from a worse score, but honestly, if that is the case…I’m totally fine with it.

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