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Film releases: Action packed rumble in the jungle

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Cert 12A, 119 mins)

Hungry hippo: Jack Black should look behind him in the new Jumanji
Hungry hippo: Jack Black should look behind him in the new Jumanji
Hard knocks: Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick

By Damon Smith

More than 20 years after family-friendly fantasy Jumanji starring Robin Williams rampaged through multiplexes, Jake Kasdan directs an action packed rumble in the jungle tailored to the short attention spans of digitally-minded teenagers.

Five screenwriters pay affectionate tribute to the late actor, respectfully passing the narrative baton to a new set of wise-cracking misfits, who have an equally close encounter with a herd of belligerent, stampeding rhinoceroses.

In the 1995 original, released as a time when the term "smartphone" was freshly minted, the horned beasts are unleashed from a magical board game and stampede down a quiet suburban street.

Fast-forward to the present day and state-of-the-art computer trickery allows Kasdan to orchestrate an outlandish set-piece involving angry albino rhinoceroses charging down a helicopter in a rocky canyon.

It's a preposterously overblown sequence in a film merrily divorced from realism that relinquishes the childlike innocence of the first film for an all-guns-blazing assault on the senses including ribald humour too saucy for very young children.

Computer gaming nerd Spencer Gilpin (Alex Wolff) serves detention alongside three fellow students at Brantford High School: strapping football jock Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain), social media-obsessed cheerleader Bethany (Madison Iseman) and shy bookworm Martha (Morgan Turner).

For their punishment, the teenagers begrudgingly clean out the school's musty basement, where they stumble upon a discarded Jumanji video game with four controllers.

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Spencer, Fridge, Bethany and Martha are sucked into the game where the students take on the guise of heroic avatars.

Spencer becomes strapping archaeologist Dr Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge is scaredy-cat zoologist Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart), Bethany is quirky cartographer Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) and Martha is reborn as acrobatic warrior Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan).

A plummy guide called Nigel (Rhys Darby) explains that the teenagers must combine their characters' complementary skills to recover a green gem and lift a curse.

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is less than the sum of its fitfully entertaining parts.

Johnson and Hart catalyse an amusingly fractious double-act while Black has a hoot channelling the sassiness of a classroom queen bee.

Pitch Perfect 3 (Cert 12A, 93 mins)

Pitch Perfect 2 overtook School Of Rock to become the highest grossing musical comedy of all time so expectations are high for the third and concluding chapter in the aca-franchise.

Trish Sie assumes directorial duties for Pitch Perfect 3, which opens after the Barden Bellas have left college and gone their separate ways. It's a hard knock life without the unstinting support of the sorority and Beca (Anna Kendrick), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and co desperately miss their fellow musical minxes.

When an opportunity arises for the Bellas to reform in order to take part in an overseas tour with the United Service Organisations (USO), which entertains members of the United States Armed Forces, the limber ladies don't hesitate.

Beca and Fat Amy trade hugs with the rest of the gang including Chloe (Brittany Snow), Stacie (Alexis Knapp), Jessica (Kelley Jakle), Cynthia-Rose (Ester Dean), Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), Flo (Chrissie Fit) and softly spoken beatboxer Lilly (Hana Mae Lee).

The Bellas are crestfallen to discover that their fellow performers on the tour don't just sing beautifully, they also play their instruments.

Sardonic commentators John Smith (John Michael Higgins) and Gail Abernathy-McKadden (Elizabeth Banks) unleash a barrage of pitch-slapping putdowns as the Bellas realise they will have to aca-dapt once again to make themselves heard.

Belfast Telegraph


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