Board games aren't as popular as they used to be. Before the likes of Xbox and this internet lark, we had classic board games such as Monopoly and Game Of Life to keep us entertained. Luckily though we didn't have anything like Jumanji; a mystical board game which magically comes to life as you're playing.
It sounds like a whole load of fun, which is exactly what young Alan Parrish thinks, minutes before he is sucked into the game and left to fend for himself for 26 years. Now that never happened with Ludo! Reawakened by a younger generation, old Alan, played by the late Robin Williams, must now finish the game before it engulfs the entire town.
That's the premise for Jumanji, and if it sounds a little ridiculous that's because it is. It makes no qualms about it. It's not purporting to be anything else but a fantasy family entertainment movie. It's a heck of a good example of one as well. In fact I think you'll struggle to find better from the era.
Robin Williams brings his usual maniacal charm and injects healthy doses of humour when the movie threatens to take itself too seriously. He's the ideal choice to portray a child trapped in a man's body, just as he did as Peter Pan in Hook, Popeye and all the way to his breakout part in Mork and Mindy.
Also featured in the cast is a young Kirsten Dunst, who offers ample support as one of the younger players. But the real star of the show are the special effects, and being that its directed by former effects man Joe Johnston they are a treat. From the scenes of an animal stampede through the streets, to the monsoon inside a huge mansion, and, in a wonderful subplot, one of the players being gradually transformed into a monkey because he tries to cheat the game. For the time, groundbreaking.
It's 20 years old now, so that statement 'for the time' is important. Even moments in the original Jurassic Park appear dated and that had a substantially larger budget. So it's understandably that some of the effects in Jumanji don't quite hold up as well as they did back then, with the monkeys being the prime example, but the premise is so much fun that you won't really mind a few dodgy effects shots here or there.
Jumanji is a wonderfully fun family film with plenty of thrills and a great premise. It does take a little while to find its feet, with the beginning dragging on slightly longer than necessary, but once the main plot gets going it barely stops for breath as the players have to deal with a multitude of surprising threats that the game delivers. A big part of the fun of this movie is waiting to see what the game will spit out next...
By day, an ordinary bloke in a dull 9 to 5. By night, a tired ordinary bloke. Martin still hasn't worked out what he wants to do when he grows up. He is currently 47.