A fun movie that shows potential at times to be great, but never rises to the occasion. The premise/plot is solid and a nice modern twist on the first “Jumanji” film. The execution falters pretty early on as it doesn’t really feel like the characters are advancing through a video game. It’s more like they wander from point A to point B and stuff just kind of happens. There are a few intense action sequences, but not much that feels truly perilous for the characters. The characters themselves are what invest you in the story, even with the fact that the four main characters are each played by two different actors. Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan do adequate jobs are conveying their nerdier characters that find themselves in amazing new bodies, but it’s Jack Black that steals the show as the stuck-up, pretty girl trapped in an overweight man’s body. While Kevin Hart is entertaining, he ends up playing the same character he usually plays, which is a contradiction to the soft spoken jock that he is supposed to be. The villain really added nothing to the story and the film would not be hurt if he was cut out altogether. The effects were okay, and while there were some cool visuals, but a lot of it just looked too CG. There were some good comedy moments throughout, and most of it worked pretty well. There is a surprising amount of heart in this film that was genuinely moving at times, thanks to the chemistry of the lead characters.
*** out of *****