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Jumanji: Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 20, 2015 by  



jumanji

“Jumanji” is an entertaining fantasy adventure film that was loosely adapted from Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s book. But the changes from book to film and the casting of Robin Williams and its captivating storyline makes “Jumanji” a wonderful family film that will continue to endure and entertain many more generations to come. “Jumanji: Anniversary Edition” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1995 Tristar Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Jumanji: Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1995

DURATION: 104 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 Aspect Ratio), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Surround, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Menacing Fantasy Action and Some Mild Language)

Release Date: September 22, 2015


Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg

Directed by Joe Johnston

Screenplay by Jonathan Hensleigh, Greg Taylor, Jim Strain

Produced by Scott Kroopf, William Teitler

Executive Producer: Robert W. Cort, Ted Field, Larry J. Franco

Music by James Horner

Cinematography by Thomas E. Ackerman

Edited by Robert Dalva

Casting by Nancy Foy

Production Design by James D. Bissell

Art Direction by Glen W. Pearson, David Wilson

Set Decoration by Tedd Kuchera, Cynthia T. Lewis

Costume Design by  Martha Wynne Snetsinger


Starring:

Robin Williams as Alan Parrish

Jonathan Hyde as Van Pelt/Sam Parrish

Kirsten Dunst as Judy Shepherd

Bradley Pierce as Peter Shepherd

Bonnie Hunt as Sarah Whittle

Bebe Neuwirth as Nora Shepherd

David Alan Grier as Carl Bentley

Patricia Clarkson as Carol Parrish

Adam Hann-Byrd as Young alan

Laura Bell Bundy as Young Sarah


When young Alan Parrish discovers a mysterious board game, he doesn’t realize its unimaginable powers, until he is magically transported before the eyes of his friend, Sarah, into the untamed jungles of JUMANJI! 26 years later he is freed from the game’s spell by two unsuspecting children. Alan (ROBIN WILLIAMS) reunites with Sarah (BONNIE HUNT) and together with Judy (KIRSTEN DUNST) and Peter (BRADLEY PIERCE) tries to outwit the game’s powerful forces in this imaginative adventure that combines breathtaking special effects with an enchanting mixture of comedy, magic and thrills.


In 1995, a live film adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg’s 1981 children’s book was released in theaters.

Directed by Joe Johnston (“Jurassic Park III”, “Captain America: The First Avenger”, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”), the film would also star Robin Williams (“Good Will Hunting”, “Dead Poets Society”, “Good Morning Vietnam”), Jonathan Hyde (“Titanic”, “The Mummy”), Bonnie Hunt (“The Green Mile”, “Return to Me”, “The Bonnie Hunt Show”), Bebe Neuwirth (“Cheers”, “Frasier”, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”), Patricia Clarkson (“The Green Mile”, “Friends with Benefits”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), Kirsten Dunst (“Spider-Man” films, “Melancholia”) and Bradley Pierce (“The Borrowers”).

Despite receiving a little backlash for not being faithful to the original book, “Jumanji” did very well in the box office, earning over $262 million (original budget was $65 million).  The popularity of the film would lead to an animated TV series and plans for a remake of the film is set for release in 2016.

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the film, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will be releasing “Jumanji: Anniversary Edition” on Blu-ray and DVD in Sept. 2015.

The film begins in 1969 as we are introduced to a 12-year-old Alan Parrish, a young boy who is bullied because he hangs out with Sarah Whittle.  He often escapes to his father’s shoe factory owned by the stern and very busy Samuel Parrish (portrayed by Jonathan Hyde) and often talks to his friend Carl Bentley (portrayed by David Alan Grier).  While trying to get protection from his father, his father tells him to stick up for himself and when Alan goes out, he is beaten up by his bullies and has his bike stolen.

While recovering after getting beaten, he hears the sound of tribal drumbeats near a construction site.  When he goes to see where the drumbeats are coming from, he finds a chest buried in the dirt.  When Alan opens the old chest, inside is a case that says “Jumanji”.

Meanwhile, as Alan gets back home, he finds out that his parents want to ship him out to school away from home, as the Parrish men have attended the school as tradition.  Alan is upset and gets in an argument with his father, telling him that he does not want to go to the school and does not want to talk to his father again.

As his parents leave for a reception, Alan packs up and is about to run away from home.  But the door rings and Sarah brings back the bike that was stolen.

Alan is excited about what he found earlier in the day and tells Sarah that he found “Jumanji” which turns out to be a board game.  But when he rolls the dice, he sees a message show up in the center of the game.  When Sarah rolls the dice, she also gets an unusual message.  When Alan rolls again, a message comes up that he will be stuck in a desolate place until someone rolls a 5 or 8.  Meanwhile, as for Sarah, she is distraught of seeing Alan disappear and bats start to come out of the chimney and try to attack her but she runs out of the Parrish home.

Fast forward to 1995, Nora Shepherd (portrayed by Bebe Neuwirth) and legal guardian for Judy  (portrayed by Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (portrayed by Bradley Pierce), two children who lost their parents to an automobile accident.

Nora and the kids have bought the old Parrish home and immediately, the start hearing tribal drum beats.  Hearing noise in the attic, Nora calls an exterminator who checks the attic and finds nothing.  But he also tells the kids that he would never live in the Parrish house because rumors continue that Alan Parrish, went missing and his father chopped him up in pieces and hid the body in the house.

Scared that the home may be haunted, their aunt Nora dismisses those rumors.  And as she leaves to work, the kids go back to the attic and find the game “Jumanji”.  And as they play, they notice that each time they roll the dice, the message that appears produces something real, such as giant mosquitoes that attack, troublemaking monkeys that begin to wreck the house.  When Peter rolls the dice, he rolls a 5 and it releases a lion, but it also releases a hairy adult.

While the man manages to lock the lion in a bedroom, he is excited to see the house and begins asking for his mother and father.  It is then revealed to the children that the man standing before them is none other than Alan Parrish, the boy who went missing.

As the kids ask for Alan to please help them with the game, Alan is unwilling after being stuck inside the game for 26-years, but seeing the destruction caused by the mosquitoes and the troublesome monkeys, Alan said he will help the children.

But when the kids start playing, nothing happens.  But when Alan sees the board, he sees two additional players and realizes that the game is continuing where he and Sarah left off when they were younger.  And the only way they can complete Jumanji is by finding Sarah Whittle and have her, along with Alan, continue the game with Judy and Peter.

Will the four manage to complete “Jumanji” with all the troubles that come with each rolling of the dice?


VIDEO:

“Jumanji: Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality is fantastic as detail on close-up of faces show detail. Skin tones are natural and black levels are nice and deep and shoes no color fluctuations considering the film’s age. Grain is also quite visible with visible noise that can be seen on lights and windows looking outdoors.  While not crisp and sharp, I prefer a non-DNR picture quality as some early-to-mid ’90s films have received that treatment in the past.  But overall picture quality is good!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Jumanji: Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital. The lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and music. But what I loved about this lossless soundtrack is how the soundtrack utilizes the surround channels for the many action sequences throughout the film.  Overall, a fantastic lossless soundtrack!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Jumanji: Anniversary Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • Special Effects Crew Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by the special effects crew for the film.
  • Making Jumanji: The Realm of Imagination – (20:05) The making of “Jumanji”.
  • Lions and Monkeys and Pods… Oh My! – (14:34) A look at how the lion, monkeys and the plants were created for “Jumanji”.
  • Production Design: Bringing Down the House – (3:06) A featurette about the home(s) where “Jumanji” was shot.
  • Storyboard Comparisons – (3:42) Storybook comparisons for the “Bats”, “Rhino Stampede” and “Earthquake”.
  • Jumanji Motion Storybook as Read by Author Chris Van Allsburg – (8:59) A motion storybook by “Jumanji” author Chris Vann Allsburg.
  • Jumanji: The Animated Series –  (45:20) Featuring two episodes of “Jumanji: The Animated Series”: The Price & Bargaining Time
  • Jumanji Jungle Adventure: Virtual Board Game – A trivia based game up to four players.
  • The Cast of Goosebumps Reflects on Jumanji – (5:20) “Goosebumps” actors Dylan Minnette and Ryan Lee discuss their favorite “Jumanji” scenes.
  • Goosebumps Sneak Peek – A sneak peek for the 2015 film “Goosebumps”.
  • Original Teasers and Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Jumanji: Anniversary Edition” comes with a slipcover and UltraViolet code.


How awesome it is to watch “Jumanji” once again!

With Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releasing anniversary Blu-ray releases for “Jumanji”, “The Indian in the Cupboard” and “Zathura: A Space Adventure”, these are the films that I grew up watching when I was younger and now films that I now share with family.

“Jumanji” has a storyline that captivates you with its use of visual effects, the wonderful performance by Robin Williams and it’s an exciting, fun and enjoyable film because of adventure featured throughout.

Its a film that holds up quite well 20-years-later, despite the fact that CG-technology has changed dramatically and while those who grew up reading Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s book may find things to be very different, Jonathan Hensleigh, Greg Taylor and Jim Strain were able to craft a new story that will attract young and old, and the fact is that the film needed starpower and it gets that with hilarious and respected comedian, Robin Williams.

The book was child-driven with the focus on Judy and Peter and no adults.  I don’t think I would have enjoyed the film as much if it followed the storyline of the two children and thus, I felt at the time that “Jumanji: The Animated Series” had a story that was well-suited for children wanting to see the adventures of Judy and Peter (also different from the books, but it does focus on both kids, albeit they get sucked into the jungle and try to help out Alan).

With the film adaptation, the movie has an emotional element as the film introduces us to Alan Parrish, how he gets sucked into the game and how he disappeared for 26-years.   His return to the present surprises him as he finds out what has happened to his parents but also what has happened to Sarah after all these years.  And now, how his character is determined to be brave and help complete the game.

From the wild animals and deadly things all around, it made sense to have these action sequences that involved both adults and children and for the most part, I enjoyed the film differently. It was more action-packed and it was a lot of fun, but it does have its times of peril but nothing too bad such as showing people getting killed.

So, I wasn’t as bothered about the film not being a faithful adaptation and considering that the film made a tremendous amount of money back in 1995, suffice to say, the choice to craft a different type of storyline would eventually become a success.  And I’m not surprised by the fact that a remake of the film is being planned for a 2016 release.

While “Jumanji” was released on Blu-ray back in 2011 and picture and lossless audio quality is comparable, the main difference is that this Blu-ray release (as well as for “The Indian in the Cupboard” and “Zathura: A Space Adventure”) has a tie-in with the 2015 film release for “Goosebumps” in the special features.  Also, included are two episodes from “Jumanji: The Animated Series” and a “Jumanji” Motion Picture Storybook as read by author Chris Van Allsburg.

Overall, “Jumanji” is an entertaining fantasy adventure film that was loosely adapted from Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s book.  But the changes from book to film and the casting of Robin Williams and its captivating storyline makes “Jumanji” a wonderful family film that will continue to endure and entertain many more generations to come.

“Jumanji: Anniversary Edition” is recommended!






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