I really liked the original film with Robin Williams. It took a ridiculous premise (a magic board game) and handled it deftly. (And it was somewhat more involving than the similarly themed Zathura.)
This is a sequel, not a reboot, technically. The game reappears, looking just as it did before, but in an age of video games (i.e. the 1990’s), it’s ignored to the point where the game decides to change format, becoming a NES-style cartridge game. It pulls in one kid, then sits on a shelf until the present day.
Instead of a couple of young kids getting pulled into the game, we have a group of four mismatched teenagers: a dweeb, a jock, a pretty girl, and a misfit girl. So, no surprises there, I guess. The actors playing the teens do a nice job of setting up the relationships before they get sucked into Jumanji and they look like movie stars.
That’s the big difference between this film and the original. We heard that Robin Williams’s Alan spent some ridiculous amount of time in the jungles of Jumanji, but we never saw it. Now we get to see it in all it’s glory, through the eyes of Dwayne Johnson (playing the dweeb), Kevin Hart (as the jock), Karen Gillan (as the misfit), and, in truly inspired casting, Jack Black (as the pretty girl).
The substance of their quest isn’t particularly important. They’re trying to take a thing to a place. That’s just the plot’s excuse to put these fish-out-of-water through a series of trials, which includes each of them dying multiple times. (It is a video game, after all.)
There’s a new villain in this film (Bobby Canavale) which is interestingly a very different Van Pelt than in the first film, though he is ultimately forgettable.
This film is uniformly funny, enjoyably exciting, and surprisingly touching. I can recommend it.