Movie Review: “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” [Spoiler-Free]


I’m always wary when a beloved childhood movie is remade or rebooted, because let’s face it: the Hollywood of today doesn’t have the greatest track record when messing around with classics from the 80’s and 90’s. In particular I’ve personally found that they tend to rely far too much on current special effects technology and making controversial changes to seem progressive (*cough*femaleGhostbusters*cough*) and fail to focus on important things like, you know…the script.

But that’s just my opinion. Take it or leave it.

However, I had a small spark of hope when I first saw the trailers for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, because the combination of actors they chose felt like a winning possibility to me. So I quietly crossed my fingers behind my back and waited for the opportunity to judge with as little bias as I could manage, having grown up with the original.

And I’m happy to report that I personally thought the result was thoroughly enjoyable.

The movie opens in the 90’s, with a teenage boy finding the Jumanji board game and commenting on the fact that no one plays board games anymore before he turns to his video games. Whatever magic possesses the game apparently hears him and agrees, because it evolves in order to stay relevant and lure in new victims.

Fast forward back to the present day, and we meet our four teenage heroes. Spencer is a video game-playing nerd with asthma and allergies, who never takes any risks and is basically terrified of life. Fridge is the 6-foot-tall, muscular football player who is flunking one of his classes and bullies Spencer into writing his reports for him so he can stay on the team. Martha is an intellectual who has no use for physical activity and keeps to herself because she sees herself as an unlikable loser. And Bethany is our stereotypical blond prom queen, totally absorbed in her own world and too pretty for her own good. The four wind up in detention together and are set a task in an old, unused room of the school, in which they discover a self-enclosed video game called “Jumanji”. They decide to play, each choosing a different character, without really thinking too much about the descriptions of said characters. Unlike the original Jumanji film, in which the contents of the board game escape out into the real world, our heroes in Welcome to the Jungle find themselves pulled into the game, where they take over the bodies of the avatars they’d chosen. Terrified Spencer becomes a hulking hunk hero. Mousy Martha becomes a sexy man-killer. Athletic Fridge becomes a short, squat zoologist. And beautiful Bethany becomes a fat, middle-aged male cartologist. Together the four must play and defeat the game in order to escape and go home.

I’ll admit that, at first, I thought the idea of Jumanji being a video game instead of a board game was nothing more than a sad statement on the fact that, as a society, we’re all glued to our screens and don’t take part in proximity group activities anymore. Even as a video gamer myself I can fully accept this as a fact of present times, and maybe it seemed a little on the nose within the movie format at first. But I’m happy to say that it actually did work within the context of the film. It was interesting seeing the characters trapped in the game, trying to get out, rather than the original concept of attempting to get the game back in. Add to that the fact that the characters becoming completely different people who were very contrary to their real-life selves was the integral part of the film (morals and lessons and all that), and you’ve got a recipe for fun and hysterics abound.

The cast chosen to play the video-game versions of the teens were amazing. The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, as Spencer, Kevin Hart as Fridge, Jack Black as Bethany, and Karen Gillan as Martha were all hysterical and spot on with their portrayals of the teenagers they were supposed to be transformed from. Giant, muscular Johnson acting like a terrified little mouse, tiny Hart as a big-headed jock, and pudgy Black as a valley-girl-esque brat were all spot on and had me giggling like a damn fool on numerous occasions. Gillan was less laugh-out-loud funny simply because her character was the least cartoony teenage stereotype of the four, but she still had several excellent moments, and overall I thought her performance was spot-on.

I do have a few minor complaints, one of which is that in several scenes, when one of the characters (usually Spencer) was explaining an aspect of the video game world, it seemed over-explained, almost as if the script-writers assumed that the people watching the movie would all be non-gamers who had no idea what was going on. Contrary to that, I’d be willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of movie-goers who watch this film will have played at least enough video games to get the concepts without being pandered to, so it seemed too much to me. For example, when the characters start seeing images from the backstory of the game and act confused, Spencer explains that he thinks this is a cut-scene. For the average viewer, chances are that this would have been plenty enough information to get the joke across, but the script sledgehammers the point into the ground by having Spencer continue on with an explanation about how cut-scenes are “little movies” that show you what’s happening in another part of the story and that “lots of games have them”. The entire line really gives of a vibe that says “we think you’re probably too dumb to understand this unless we explain it in the most basic of layman’s terms”.

Another small complaint is that, while the subplot of the film is obviously that these four very different teenagers have to get past their differences and learn how to work together, I felt that the two female characters became best buds way too fast. It was cute to see the mousy nerd and the conceited beauty-queen bond and learn from each other; I just felt that it happened so quickly that there was barely any antagonism between them at all, whereas the two male characters spent a good half the movie arguing and wanting to kill each other. It just seemed a little uneven to me in that manner, and I would have liked to see a little more of the girls acting bitchy toward one another before realizing they actually rather like each other.

One final complaint is that, considering the main plot was that these characters were trapped in a video game, there wasn’t actually a whole lot of “video game level” style of scenes. There were a few cute things to remind you that that’s where they were, like the random NPC’s repeating lines over and over, or the little “lives” bars on the main characters’ arms, but when it came to actually playing the game, a large portion of it seemed to be simply walking from place to place, or performing fairly quick tasks. It’s a bit difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t seen the movie, but if you’re a gamer yourself you might understand if I explain this way: if the Jumanji game were an actual video game in real life, it could be beaten in less than an hour. Since the full movie is only about two hours long, I suppose they couldn’t really cram that much video game-esque challenge into it; it’s just that as a gamer myself, this point seemed a little glaring to me personally.

Those three complaints, however, are minor when considering the film as a whole. All in all I thought that it was a very fun movie, with lots of excellent humor, a few absolutely unexpected moments (one in particular had my daughter giggling and yelling, “It made us ALL jump!” for a full five minutes), and plenty of heart, all wrapped around wonderful performances from the cast, which, by the way, was joined by Nick Jonas about halfway through. It was (mostly) well-written, well-edited, and had that feel-good family-movie vibe while also having enough more mature humor in it to keep the adults happy.

One small warning on that topic before I conclude! If you have young children who are very inquisitive, you might have a conversation on your hands by the middle of this movie, as a few humorous moments with the transformed-into-a-man Bethany could leave little ones asking, “Wait, what? What is she talking about?” Yeah, you know what I’m getting at.

So, in conclusion, I am happy to say that I genuinely enjoyed Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It did not, as far as I’m concerned, stomp on the classic from my childhood in any way, and instead gave it a little bit of a fun reboot for the current generation that can be a good time for the whole family. Even if you’re wary of remakes and reboots like I am, I truly suggest you give this one a try, especially if you’re in the mood to laugh.

Have you seen Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle? Let me know what you thought of it in the comment section below!


DUDE! AMAZING Surprise Viewer Mail From Brian Fills a MAJOR Void in the Collection!

I am always humbled whenever someone sees fit to send us a gift to unbox on the channel; it never ceases to amaze me how kind and generous and awesome our community can be. And today that amazement continued with one HELL of a surprise package from Brian. We couldn’t have possibly guessed that he would have sent us this amazing figure that fills a MAJOR void in our collection, and we are absolutely in awe. Thank you SO much, Brian!

HOLY $#!% What a Box from Marie! Absolutely AMAZING Viewer Mail Unboxing! DBZ, LDD & a… Mankini?

It’s more viewer mail! I feel so incredibly gracious for all the stuff people send us, and this box from Marie really drove that point home for sure. So many awesome items, including Living Dead Dolls, Dragon Ball items, tons of other stuff, and one item specifically sent to make me nearly die laughing. XD

Huge thanks to Marie for everything! You sent so many surprises that hit the nail right on the head, and we couldn’t be happier with everything!

Plans and Goals 2018: Week 10 Review


Okay, this might come as a huge shock to those who have followed me and read these posts of mine before, but it feels like it’s been ages since I wrote an update post. Contrary to my usual feelings of a week passing by in the blink of an eye, week 10 of the year feels as though it lasted forever. It makes me curious what was different about the week to have made it feel this way. I’d like to replicate the results so that I can stop constantly feeling like my life is blowing by on a breeze. 😛

The other upside is that I feel as though I’ve managed to get a little done this week, even though we ultimately had a few very lazy days due to poor weather and related fatigue. So let’s just jump into it.


Plan #1: Focus more on Writing.
Last week I spoke of writer’s block, the bane of every author’s existence. That block followed me into week 10, but all was not in vain, because I fought it by with “goofing off” methods.

  • Goal #1: Write half a million words throughout the year. “Goofing off methods” is not as horrible as it sounds. I wrote a few extra blog posts, which are easier to deal with than fiction, and then I scratched the fiction itch by playing around with some meaningless fanfic just to get the creative juices flowing. I also started a no-commitment-required journal to get out those random thoughts that may or may not prove to be useful in the future. The result of all this was 4852 blogging words, 1430 fiction words, and 383 non-fiction words, for a weekly total of 6665. Adding to the grand total I’m up to 50,407 (officially a novel’s worth!), and my daily average has worked its way back up to 731. I’m still a ways away from getting back up to where I was, and no where near where I should be, but at least I managed to turn around and move in the proper direction again this past week!
  • Goal #2: Sell more books. No physical sales yet, according to my shop-owner buddy yet (boooooo), but I did have a few random surprise e-book sales last week! Two people grabbed “Nowhere to Hide”, and another grabbed “The Other World: Book One”. It’s a sad state of affairs that I got super excited about three e-books, totaling about $2.50 in royalties, but considering I’ve been known to go months without a sale? Yeah, sue me, I’m happy.
    On a related note, I recently submitted my manuscript for “The Other World: Book One” to a small Canadian publisher. I’m not holding my breath, but I thought it was worth a try to see what they think. Maybe I’ll even get some advice with my rejection letter. (Listen to that confidence, am I right?) Of course, the ideal situation would be an acceptance, but I won’t hold my breath (especially considering it could be months before I get a response).
  • Goal #3: Complete and publish The Other World: Book Two. Up above when I’m talking about my word count for the week you might notice that I didn’t attribute any words to The Other World: Book Two. That’s because I didn’t touch it. Case closed.

Plan #2: Focus more on YouTube.
As previously mentioned, we did have a few lazy days recently, but that doesn’t mean Jason and I have been absent when it comes to the channel.

  • Goal #1: Film more often. We managed to film and publish five videos in week 10, one of which was a semi-complicated video involving a time-delayed Lego build, and another that was a Funko Pop haul, something we haven’t done in ages in order to avoid the ire of the toxic side of the community. I’m happy with that level of productivity. We could definitely do more, but what we did didn’t cause any undue stress or frustration, so I’m happy with it.
  • Goal #2: Put more focus into, and have more fun with, the social media aspect. Twitter is starting to become the place I spend most of my time online. That’s all that really needs to be said about that. I’m getting more into Instagram lately as I train my brain to recognize when a good photo idea is present. SnapChat is still a difficult one because I just don’t think of it half the time, but since it’s the platform on which I have the fewest followers and least interaction, I’ll cut myself a little slack on that one. All in all, this particular goal is going pretty well, and though I haven’t focused on the numbers recently, I believe my follower numbers have been going up as a result.

#3: Focus more on myself.
I’ve had very little stress of late, so I must be doing something properly, right?

  • Goal #1: Take time daily to read/watch/play.  I have to admit it. I cannot lie. I’m still spending most of my “me time” playing crappy mobile games and Pokemon TCG Online. I kinda hate myself for it a little. I’ve never had an addictive personality when it comes to thinks like drugs, alcohol, or gambling, but when it comes to mobile games? I can destroy an hour without realizing a minute has passed. It’s a bit ridiculous. That said, I also managed to squeeze in about half of Stephen King’s “On Writing” this week, and spent a bit of time catching up on some shows I’ve been wanting to watch, so at least that’s something a little less embarrassing. 😛
  • Goal #2: Stay active, but don’t obsess. Just Dance with the little one continues to be my greatest form of exercise – god damn that game will kick your ass – but I also did a bit of walking in week 10, and we had a lovely family outdoor day on Saturday when the weather was nice, which involved some 1-on-1-on-1 basketball play. That said, I still seem to be gaining weight and I’m extremely perturbed about it. I need to figure out how to turn this around before I start requiring new pants. 😡

That was my week 10; not exactly worth jumping for joy over, but definitely a respectable period of productivity.

How was your week? Were you able to accomplish anything? Do anything fun? Make any progress toward your own goals? Feel free to share!

Dream Log – March 9th 2019 – School Daze & Halloween Horrors


The first thing I recall is that I was back in school, a very common dream theme for me. Unlike my usual school dreams, however, this was the first day of school rather than somewhere in the middle of the year. It was an enormous campus, filled with tons of people I did and didn’t know, but specifically there were lots of people I’d actually gone to school with in the past.

As is common for me, I was rushing around the huge campus, unable to find my classes. I made it to some kind of science class just as the professor was beginning his lecture, and I got a bit of a look from him as I slunk to the first empty seat I could find. I remember that he gave a pretty interesting speech, and I remember trying and failing to take decent notes because something was wrong with my pen, and then it was off to the next class. I sprinted to that next class, because it was Calculus (the class that gave me a nervous breakdown in real life), and I was terrified to be late again. In my mad sprint I leaped over a box that was sitting in the middle of the hall and collided head first with a woman who turned out to be the professor. Luckily she seemed to take it in stride, but I was still pretty freaked out about the incident and took a seat as far back in the class as I could find.

The next thing I remember is that I had to leave the school to head to a hotel in the city, where I was apparently staying because I didn’t have any other place to stay. I think I had to get something done with my key card, and the attendant at the desk was a guy I went to college with in real life. We chatted while he failed again and again to actually fix my card, and he kept getting interrupted by coworkers who needed his computer for various reasons. At some point an older guy showed up, and the two men started talking about how this older guy had gotten this job through some special program with the university, and he was getting all his schooling for free as a result. I remember being so frustrated at this conversation because here I was, paying for tuition AND a hotel room, and this guy was technically getting paid to go to school.

Eventually I left the hotel with my card still not working, and I met some school-mates out in the parking lot. There were three girls, and I can only remember one specific one, who was a girl I went to elementary school with. We were walking through the parking lot together and for some reason I ran up the hood of her yellow Beetle, across the roof, and back down again, and when I was on the roof there was a weird noise, like something had buckled. I managed to convince her that nothing had really happened, and we all headed back to the school in our individual cars.

I don’t recall going to any more classes, but I did go to the cafeteria for lunch, where there was food you could buy, but also a ton of food that was free. I didn’t realize this at first and was going to buy something, but then leaped on the free food, grabbing a bunch of different kinds of pasta and a small salad (which I rarely eat in real life). Out in the seating area I found I had to choose between two tables…one where my new friends were sitting, and one where my two best friends from school in real life were sitting. I ended up sitting with the old friends, and we chatted about a bunch of things while we ate and I watched people from my real life coming and going through the cafeteria.

There’s a blank spot here somewhere, but I recall that I was getting ready to go out to dinner with a bunch of friends and family, but I took too long, and just as I was running out to the car I saw my husband driving away with several of our friends in the vehicle with him. I remember not being able to decide if I was pissed off that he’d left without me, or if I totally understood why he’d done it because I’d been taking so damn long to get ready. In the end I hopped in a different car with my daughter and we set off to the restaurant ourselves. I remember thinking that I knew exactly where I was going and where we would have to park, but the next thing I knew we were driving through this extremely crowded street market, and I wasn’t even sure that I was actually allowed to have a car down there. No one actually approached me about it, but I felt very uncomfortable, and slowly managed to turn myself around and get out of there. Eventually I found a different area to park in and headed into the restaurant without my daughter. I got to the table as everyone else was already eating and drinking, and I remember my husband looking extremely uncomfortable with the whole situation.

In the second dream my family and I were living in a different house, which happened to be my aunt and uncle’s house, which is currently empty as they are living on the other side of the country.

My daughter had a few friends over, and I was feeding them, but it was an outrageous amount of food for three 7-year olds. Each of the two girl’s parents had sent along their suppers from the previous day, plus we had fast food, plus my aunt had made a big breakfast, so there was this table just COVERED in food, and I apparently thought it entirely reasonable that the girls should eat every last ounce of it.

A bit of a side-plot in the dream had to do with some kind of a mobile game similar to Pokemon Go that allowed you to catch ghosts and monsters in an augmented reality style of game, but I was taking it super seriously, as though there actually were ghosts and monsters all over the house that I was trying to capture.

Then it was night, and it also happened to be Halloween, which I didn’t realize until I started seeing kids wandering up and down the streets in costume. My daughter and her friends wandered off with a few other friends, and would come back every few minutes in different sets of costumes. I recall they were monsters one minute, princesses the next, and they just kept going again and again. Eventually they seemed to settle on these ridiculously fluffy bunny costumes with skirts and tons of makeup, and I thought it was just precious and took about a million pictures.

By the time the girls had decided on their costumes there was some kind of big event going on on the property. Tons of people in costumes had arrived, and there was music playing, food being sold, and kids running around having fun. It got dark, and at one end of the yard a show started to go on. There were seats set out and I sat next to my husband and started enjoying the show, which seemed like a mixture of a play and a magic show, but I soon realized that everything about the show seemed very familiar. I whispered to my husband that I thought this was the exact same show they’d done the previous year, but he looked at me strangely and didn’t agree at all. I kept trying to convince him, telling him I remembered this part and that part, but he insisted he didn’t remember anything of the sort, and I started to question myself because he has an excellent memory and wouldn’t be likely to just forget something like this. So to prove it to myself, and him, I started predicting things that were going to happen next. Specifically I remember predicting that a particular blond woman was going to be accused of witchcraft and tied to a chair. A moment later that’s what happened. My husband didn’t seem impressed at all, for some reason, but I took this as proof that I was either the only one who remembered this happening before, or I was somehow experiencing deja vu of the future. The last thing I remember before waking up from this dream is thinking that this was a very, very bad thing, and that I was certain it was going to result in someone dying…

So those were my two dreams. Any thoughts? Ideas? Concerns? Feel free to share in the comment section below, and also feel free to tell me what you think of dreams in general, what you think their purpose might be, and fell free to share some of your own! Cheers!