"You think that mosquitos, monkeys, and lions are bad? That's just the beginning."
Similar to Aaron's experiences with the film, Jumanji just wasn't my thing back in 1995. I loved the original book by Chris Van Allsburg and the terrific art - but I didn't quite take to the movie. At thirteen years old, I was entering that jaded teenage phase, on top of just plain moving past family-friendly movies like Jumanji. The summer Jumanji came out I was just too busy enjoying movies like Heat, Se7en, The Usual Suspects, and my numerous repeat viewings of Apollo 13 at the theater to take what was essentially a kid's film like Jumanji seriously. I only really saw it because I was invited to it for a friend's birthday party - otherwise, I probably wouldn't have given it my time.
While I was a bit of a snarky jackass in 1995, in 2017 as a 35-year-old self-described "man-child," I have to admit that I do enjoy this movie a good bit. I don't think it's a flawless film by any stretch - I share many of the same feelings as Aaron did in his review. However, I do feel like I've put enough distance between the current version of my self and the 13-year-old me to say that the film is a good deal of fun. Not perfect mind you, but fun none the less.
Where things stand with me today and it was a problem I had 22 years ago is that I just never felt like the book ever needed to be made into a movie, and certainly not a CGI kid-friendly action movie. The art of the original book was so beautiful and so rich that I felt if they were going to do a movie, modern effects just never felt appropriate. It always felt like a project more suited for stop-motion creations that would crawl out of the mind of someone like Ray Harryhausen. CGI effects were still in their infancy in 1995 and while there are plenty of practical effects to go around, the digital work still doesn't do it for me. When you have our cast of characters very clearly running away from greenscreen effects, it's hard to feel much suspense.
However, what I do appreciate is the sense of adventure this film carries. If there's one thing I will always tip my hat to Joe Johnston for is fact that the man knows how to depict fearless adventure. From The Rocketeer to Captain America: The First Avenger, Johnston has always maintained an eye for pacing and action that keeps things rolling forward without shortchanging characters. Hell, even Jurassic Park III had its moments - if it'd had a better script maybe it would have been a better movie but that's another thing unto itself. These movies were designed to be fun. And that's all Jumanji is - plain and simple family-friendly fun that isn't complicated or demanding that you could put on after dinner to keep the kiddos quiet for 90 minutes.
Looking at Jumanji today, it's hard not to watch it and feel that sense of loss after the sad passing of Robin Williams. This is especially the case when viewing the quality of his films and T.V. work just before his death, he really was a unique talent and his wild jungle man Alan Parrish is a crazy joy. When that bearded face pops up on the screen after finally escaping from the board game, I'll admit a misty-eyed smile stretched across my face. Williams was a natural-born entertainer. Watching Jumanji again just made me want to dig out my Blu-ray of Hook -- as they're very similar colorful fun movies featuring Williams at his best childlike self.
I may not love Jumanji as a movie and admittedly I'm not really looking forward to the upcoming reboot flick, but I can't deny I enjoyed myself. As the holiday season nears and I will be surrounded by little screaming land piranha needing to be entertained, I started wondering if they hadn't seen this movie? It provides great entertainment value in a tight and neat little package. I know a few kids who should have a good time with this one while the adults in the room dip into the spiked eggnog. If you haven't seen this one in awhile, don't expect to fall in love with it, just go along for the ride and have the best time you can. It's not a classic by any means, but it's a good time if you're willing to just have some fun.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K UHD
Jumaji crashes onto 4K in a two-disc 4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital set. The discs are housed in a standard black snapper UHD case with identical slip cover artwork. The disc loads to a static image main menu featuring Sony's standard navigation map. The Digital slip is Movies Anywhere compatible and should redeem across all platforms.
Jumanji rolls the dice with a strong 2160p HDR10 1.85:1 transfer. It really is great to see all of these 90s era films making their way onto 4K UHD as they continue to demonstrate significant improvements in overall quality. Between the wider color gamut and the improved resolution, it's clear to see the improvements this transfer has to offer. I was already impressed with the restored Blu-ray but this presentation runs over it like a rhino. From the first shots of little Alan Parrish riding his bike through town to his tour of the shoe factory to when a crazy-beard Robin Williams pops on the screen - the added resolution benefits are apparent from frame one. Individual blades of grass to the smallest stitches on clothing are easily apparent.
With the HDR10 push, colors are richly beautiful and really gives you that incredible primary pop and presence one longs for. With the improved contrast and black levels, everything combines to give the image an impressive sense of depth and dimension. Flesh tones also exhibit a very natural life-like quality. Skin blemishes, as well as fine lines and facial features, come through with terrific clarity. Grain is present throughout, some may consider it a bit strong for their tastes, but in my book, it never feels too noisy or intrusive and displays a welcome cinematic quality to the image. I mean, it could have been DNRed to hell and gone, so for my money, I'd rather have the grain.
While I would absolutely state that this transfer is a night and day improvement over its SDR counterpart, the issue with obvious digital effects is notable. Where they already stood out in 1080p, here, they appear even more weightless and obvious. This is especially the case when the live cast and animatronic props are on screen as the elements don't quite stand together. Going back to that first appearance of Williams fighting back the lions, the CGI version of said beast is pretty rough looking and only stands out even more against the excellent animatronic beast. Those monkeys attacking the T.V. shop are even worse. I had the same feeling with Apollo 13 during the buildup to the launch sequence where live action, models, and digital effects were combined and not always seamlessly. Thankfully these effects shots are relatively brief and the film leans more heavily on the practical side of things with its visual effects. While not altogether perfect, this is a damn beautiful presentation and is another solid notch example for film on 4K.
After rolling through this film on Blu-ray - I for one am particularly glad that Jumanji was given a brand spanking new Atmos mix. While at first it wouldn't seem that there is much of an improvement in that opening scene with the two boys burying the game, but man, when that drum beat kicks in and the low LFE tones come to life, yeah, this is a hell of an improvement. Things continue from there when the main movie gets going and you have a cacophony of action, music, and screams running through the channels. Dialogue is crystal clear with voices occupying a very natural range. Sound effects are given a lot more subtle space to roam around letting little noises draw your ear to the sides and rears. James Horner's score is magnificent and never sounded better. If I have a little bit of a nitpick it would fall on the verticals. There doesn't really feel to be much upward focused effects to this mix. There are some when the big action beats kick in, but even with rampaging monsters and animals, the activity feels more circular rather than being a perfect envelope of sound. This isn't a bad thing mind you, it's certainly an improvement over the DTS-HD 5.1 mix on the Blu-ray. Where that mix felt front loaded and clunky, this Atmos mix is much smoother and far more lively.
All of the bonus features presented here are found on the included Blu-ray. None of this material is available on the actual 4K UHD disc itself. While some are carried over from the previous Blu-ray, there's a bunch of new bonus features listed in the HD Bonus Content section that will keep fans occupied for a little while - even if some of it is promotional stuff for the upcoming reboot movie.
For a breakdown of the previously available bonus features listed below, check out our review of the 2015 release Here.
Making Jumanji: The Realm of Imagination
Jumanji Motion Storybook
Lions and Monkeys and Pods Oh My!
Bringing Down the House
Jumanji: The Animated Series
Jumanji was never the big favorite for me that it was for some of the kids that I went to school with. I was just a tad too old to really appreciate it. As an adult, I've come to appreciate the sense of humor and adventure the film brings to the screen. Robin Williams is in his element and the film itself feels like a fitting companion to the terrific children's book. With a fresh 4K restoration from the original camera negative and a new Dolby Atmos mix, this is one hell of a UHD release. The picture looks amazing - even if it does highlight early CGI effects and the new audio mix adds a lot to the film's sense of fun and adventure. With a solid bonus feature package on the included Blu-ray, this is an easy disc to call highly recommended.