Tai Freligh reviews the bonus features on the Blu-ray release of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle…
I thoroughly enjoyed Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, so when the opportunity came up to review the home video bonus features ahead of the film’s release, I jumped at the chance. I was curious as to how they would address the original film with Robin Williams (hint: there’s a featurette for that!) and I wanted to see the gag reel because having seen a few movies now with Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, I knew it should be comedy gold (it wasn’t).
Like any home video release with more than just a trailer included on the DVD, the bonus features for Jumanji were hit and miss. There were several throwaway features, but what saved the whole lot was two features in particular.
“Journey Through The Jungle: The Making of Jumanji” is a solid and informative making of featurette. You could watch just this one and that would be enough. They cover the locations of the film (mostly in Hawaii with some sets), wardrobe, and a lot on the special effects. For Jumanji purists, they even talk about the many nods to the original film with Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt and a very young Kirsten Dunst. The runtime on this featurette is 15 minutes, but it doesn’t feel like it. If you’re only going to watch one thing from the home release, make it this one.
“Book to Board Game to Big Screen & Beyond! Celebrating The Legacy of Jumanji” addresses a lot of issues that came up when it was announced that a new Jumanji movie was going to be made. For those who loved the original movie from 1995, there was no need to remake the film, especially with the unfortunate passing of Robin Williams in 2014 and no possibility of a cameo. The cast and crew put everyone’s mind at ease talking about how much they respected the original and wanted to honor the legacy and not “redo” it, but take it to the next level. The director talked about how the world of Jumanji came into our world in the original and that in this movie, the characters went into the world of Jumanji. They also talk about how the board game was updated to a video game to modernize it. I was glad to watch this because I knew they put a lot of thought into how to do a new movie without tarnishing the legacy of the original.
“Meet the Players: A Heroic Cast” – an interesting, but short featurette talking about the casting of the characters and how perfect everybody was for their roles.
“Attack of the Rhinos!” – Interesting if you’re into special effects. This featurette goes into detail behind how a three minute sequence in the movie was put together, from storyboard to screen.
“Surviving the Jungle: Spectacular Stunts!” – Similarly, interesting short featurette on pulling off the stunts.
Do yourself a favor and skip the gag reel. It was far too short and wasn’t that funny. Like I mentioned above, I thought there would be more to this, considering how much ad-libbing Kevin Hart does, but it becomes more of a throwaway featurette.
And for god sake, don’t watch the music video, especially if you were expecting something tracked by the titular “Welcome to the Jungle” song from Guns N’ Roses. If you’re at all familiar with Jack Black and his band, Tenacious D, then you’ll feel right at home with this video, but it’s just too out there and not funny at all. Save yourself some time and skip it.
There’s enough good stuff in the featurettes to make it worthwhile checking some of them out, especially if you enjoyed the movie as much as I did. Learning more about how the movie was put together and how the cast and crew navigated the tricky waters of updating a classic were interesting to watch. And, if you like torturing yourself, you can always watch the cheesy music video a few times. Overall, I would rate the bonus features an 8/10.
In the brand new adventure Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the tables are turned as four teenagers in detention are sucked into the world of Jumanji. When they discover an old video game console with a game they’ve never heard of, they are immediately thrust into the game’s jungle setting, into the bodies of their avatars, played by Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji –Jumanji plays you. They’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, or they’ll be stuck in the game forever…
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle sees Jake Kasdan (Sex Tape) directing a cast that includes Dwayne Johnson (The Fate of the Furious), Kevin Hart (Central Intelligence), Jack Black (Goosebumps), Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), Rhys Darby (Hunt for the Wilderpeople), Nick Jonas (Scream Queens), Alex Wolff (The Sitter), Madison Iseman (Still the King), Morgan Turner (Remember Me) and Ser’Darius Blain (Star Trek Into Darkness).
The film will be released digitally on March 6th with a March 20th Blu-ray and DVD release date.
Tai Freligh is a Los Angeles-based writer and can be found on Twitter.