Plot: What’s it about?
For me, Jumanji was one of those Robin Williams movies that I never really wanted to see in the theater. I mean, come on, it’s about a board game and it was supposed to be for kids. Well, the Special Edition arrived, and I’m a sucker for those, so I decided to check it out. Robin Williams plays Alan Parrish, a boy who has been literally sucked into a board game called “Jumanji”. The experience was so frightening that his friend who was playing at the time, ran away in terror (and later we learn that she had to endure many years of psychotherapy). Terror…Psychotherapy? Do these sound like words that are used in a kids movie? No!
Now we go to the present, two more kids move into what is called “The Old Parrish” house and in the midst of being late for school, start playing the game. What happens, but an 8 is rolled (they would have also accepted a 5). Out pops Robin Williams (a grown up Alan Parrish) and all the madness starts again, this time with more players. Now you would figure that playing a board game is no big deal. Usually mosquitos the size of cats don’t chase you, or a stampede of large African animals don’t stomp through your house, down the street and through the forsest and you really don’t expect the floor to turn to liquid with you standing on it. Welcome to Jumanji! So, how do the kids (one of which is a very young Kirsten Dunst) get Alan to finish the game, find the missing person who watched him get sucked in to begin with to play, and try to avoid getting killed at every turn? You’ll have to watch and find out.
Jumanji was not at all what I expected, it’s a pretty good story, based on an old kids book and had me shaking in my boots more than once. Well, what would you do if you rolled a seven at the craps table (in Vegas) and a killer Lion came at you?! If you’re looking for 104 minutes of good, quality entertainment then you just may have found your movie. Put it this way…you could do a lot worse, like being someone whose actually playing the game!
Video: How’s it look?
Jumanji has been on The DVD format, the Blu-ray format (twice) and now makes its debut on Ultra HD/4K. To their credit, Sony did do a pretty good job on this and they did do a restoration that’s brought out the best in the picture. Strong contrast and black levels are evident in several scenes throughout the film, bright and colorful scenes exist as well and all look good. There seems to be a bit of softness in a few of the action sequences and the CGI does seem a bit intrusive. The addition of HDR has given some of the scenes new “life” so to speak and it is a testament that when a studio puts their heads to it, they can create something really impressive.
Audio: How’s it sound?
In addition to an upgraded and restored picture, we get a new Dolby Atmos soundtrack on the UHD. That being said, it’s not a bad-sounding film and, in fact, there are some examples of dynamic range that I’ve used to demo my system to some folks. LFE are present on multiple occasions, making for a front heavy mix. The surrounds are used at just the right time making for some rather interesting surround effects (imagine 3 foot long mosquitos trying to break through your windshield). There are several instances in this film that provides a dizzying and immersive audio mix that’s a welcome change to this disc.
Supplements: What are the extras?
With the anniversary edition still fresh in my memory, I’d expected that the included Blu-ray would have been included as an afterthought. Nope. Sony has prepared a few new extras (while not porting over all of the supplements from the anniversary edition) to this disc. What a nice surprise!
- Special Effects Crew Commentary – With all of the features on here, this one initially slipped under my radar. But no, there it is, it’s a full-length feature commentary though on a more technical level. This wasn’t new for this release, mainly recycled from a previous release. Still, it’s nice to have.
- Sneak Peek of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson expresses his love and reverence for the original Jumanji and what Robin Williams brought to the film. But, let’s face it, the only reason that this “original” movie is seeing the light of day is because they’re making a sequel. Hey, it gives us Jumanji in 4K – I’m not complaining. And yes, this is a glorified trailer for the new film.
- Gag Reel – There were so many shenanigans on the set, I lost count! That’s what happens when Robin Williams is involved.
- Deleted Scenes – Two are included and don’t really add much.
- The Company with Soul
- Merry Christmas
- Making Jumanji: The Realm of Imagination – Somewhat your typical EPK with some interviews with the cast and crew, some behind the scenes footage as well as some interesting tidbits about the production.
- Jumanji Motion Storybook as read by author Chris Van Allsburg – Read by Author Chris Van Allsburg, this is pretty self-explanatory as the author reads his book.
- SFX Featurette: Lions, monkeys and Pods…oh My! – Another rather standard featurette with some emphasis on the “critters” that played a part in the film.
- Bringing Down the House – A look at the house that played a big part in the film and how it was built (and ultimately demolished).
- Jumanji: The Animated Series – I had no idea one even existed. Nevertheless two episodes are included: “The Price” and “Bargaining for Time”.
- Storyboard Comparisons – A few are included: “Bats” , “Rhino Stampede”, “Earthquake”.
- Production Stills – Some still photos from the set. Also of note, I have no idea what “CTC” means.
- Set Photography
- Production Design Photos
- CTC: 1 Alligator
- CTC: 2 Bats
- CTC: 3 Monkeys
- CTC: 4 Pelican
- CTC: 5 Spiders
- CTC: 6 Pod
- CTC: 7 Lions
- Conceptual Art – Heldover from previous discs, we get the same three.
- Alternate Title Treatments
- Production Design
- The Extreme Book of Nature – This is a learning experience, sort of. By highlighting one of the animals below, you get to learn a bit about them.
- Ancient Diversions – This is a makeshift ploy to get you to be a magician (or sorts). By viewing one of the options below, you’ll be an expert and will amaze your friends (who will all not be your friends after doing this to them).
- Disappearing paper
- Invisible Ink
- Life After Death
- Magic String
- Severed Finger
- Mind Reading
- International Trailer
- “Are You Game” Trailer
- “It’s a Jungle in There” Trailer
The Bottom Line
I suppose it’s a bit of a stretch to call Jumanji a “classic”, though it’s hard to believe that it’s been two decades since this came to theaters. This new 4K version adds some new features, but nothing mind-blowing. If you don’t already own this disc, this is the version to pick up.