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“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” reboots the franchise with lots of laughs.
Rebooting a franchise can be a tricky thing. You want to keep what’s beloved and familiar, but you also have to find new ways to make the updated version fresh and involving. Fortunately, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” pays homage to the 1995 Robin Williams film, yet strongly forges its own new territory. The filmmakers made the easy call of turning the board game into a video game. Also, they don’t have the game animals follow the players home. Instead, the players get sucked into the magical console and become their avatars. This sequel is more comedic too, satirizing PlayStation tropes and letting stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan all perform at the top of their game.
“The Last Jedi” tells the familiar in surprising ways.
By now, movie fans can be assured that each new “Star Wars” saga will have a lot of the same: light saber battles, snarling villains, and a ragtag band of resistance fighters. And writer/director Rian Johnson delivers all of that with energy and flair in “The Last Jedi.” What he also brings to the franchise, nine films in, is a genuine sense of surprising narrative. The story doesn’t quite go where online fanboys have predicted it would for two years now. Nor do certain characters die as anticipated. Even BB-8 turns out to be more bad-ass than comic foil here. You know that a filmmaker has done a superb job of keeping you enthralled when one of the biggest debates will be what happens to Princess Leia next time. All in all, the Force is exceedingly strong in this one.