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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Jumanji: Collector's Series (1995)

"In the jungle you must wait, until the dice read five or eight."
- Alan Parrish (Robin Williams)

Review By: Brian Cook (age 32) and Roddy Cook (age 6)   
Published: June 20, 2000

Stars: Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt
Other Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Bradley Pierce, Bebe Neuwirth, David Alan Grier, Jonathan Hyde
Director: Joe Johnston

MPAA Rating: PG
Run Time: 01h:44m:00s
Release Date: June 13, 2000
UPC: 043396117426
Genre: adventure


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-A-A A

DVD Review

When little Alan Parrish spoke the above line, he had no idea what was in store for him. Based on the children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, Jumanji tells the tale of an ancient, seemingly harmless children's board game that Allan has unearthed that winds up being an adventure beyond even the wildest child's imagination.

When young Alan and his friend Sarah sit down to play Jumanji, they quickly discover that this is no ordinary game. After unleashing hundreds of African Bats on their small New Hampshire town, Alan rolls the dice and literally gets sucked into the game, causing Sarah to run from the house screaming.

Twenty-six years later, two unsuspecting orphans, Judy and Peter, stumble upon the game when their Aunt buys the former Parrish home. After having monkeys and mosquitoes come out of the game, Peter rolls a five and releases Alan from the jungle of the game, where he has been for the past twenty-six years.

The group soon realizes that the only way to end the chaos is to finish the game, knowing that this may cause even more mayhem. Before it's all over, we get to see a lion, a stampede of rhinoceroses, giant pods, a tropical monsoon and even a great white hunter with a grudge for Alan.

I have often heard critics pick this movie apart for various reasons, but my 6-year-old son Roddy and I both love it for just what it is—a lot of fun! How often do you get to see a stampede of African animals running wild through the streets of a quiet New England town? Not often enough, we say!

One of the reasons that critics may have panned it can be attributed to the not-so-perfect special effects. Yes, the CGI imagery is very noticeable, but one must remember that this was one of the earliest films to utilize this emerging technique. Besides, my six year old didn't notice! The director, Joe Johnston (who will be directing the upcoming Jurassic Park 3), does a wonderful job, along with his SFX team, of pioneering some wonderful effects in this movie.

The actors here do a very good job, especially Robin Williams, who I do not always like onscreen. I think he does a wonderful job here of balancing his serious acting with his zany stand-up persona and it works well in this film. Bonnie Hunt is her usual wonderful self. A young Kirsten Dunst shows us all why she is an emerging young star in Hollywood, and lastly, Bebe Neuwirth and David Alan Grier are more than adequate in their hilarious supporting roles.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable film, with quite a bit of action. There are some parts that might scare young children, such as the loud stampede or the hunter with his rifle, but other than that, it is a very funny, exciting adventure. If you have never seen this movie, I would recommend giving it a try, and with the extras that this DVD gives us, it is definitely worth a purchase.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: I never owned the original DVD that Columbia released of this movie, but I do know that it was one of the first DVD titles out there. I will say that if the transfer on the original is as good as this one, then Columbia has been doing a wonderful job right from the beginning.

This is simply a wonderful anamorphic transfer, with vibrant colors and deep blacks. The variety of locations (indoors, outdoors, rain) really test the image and it holds up under all circumstances. I will admit that some of the CGI animals look fake, but I do not believe that this is the fault of the transfer and that they probably appeared that way on the original film.

Minimal artifacting and edge enhancement, coupled with a very clean original print make this transfer one of the best ones I have seen. There is a lot going on in this movie and it just looks fabulous.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio on this disc is fantastic. The surrounds are used often and used well. There is a lot of directionality across the front soundstage, and dialog is very crisp as well. James Horner's soundtrack (more on that below) seems to fill the entire room. Add to that some extremely deep LFE and you have yourself a DD 5.1 track that will have your kid screaming at you to "TURN IT DOWN!! What you say?

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Emglish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Isolated Music Score with remote access
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by special effects crew
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Galleries
Extras Review: Where should we start? This disc certainly has a lot to offer in the way of extras and most of them are very interesting. Lets look at them one at a time.

Commentary:
There is a running commentary by various members of the special effects team, including Ken Ralston, the director of the upcoming Jumanji 2. While this isn't necessarily a screen specific commentary, it is nonetheless very informative. Roddy was bored by it, but I would imagine that most kids would be. It explains in detail some of the effects that you see in the featurettes. While I would have liked a director's commentary, this one is certainly better than nothing.

Isolated Score:
Having James Horner's isolated score is a wonderful added bonus. I really wish they would do this on more discs. It is just wonderful to have the score envelop you in glorious 5.1 channels. Roddy surprised me by sitting down and enjoying this. It helped that the movie was playing and that he knows almost every bit of dialogue by heart.

Documentaries and Featurettes:
There are three of these to look at. One is a 19-minute documentary called Making Jumanji—The Realm of Imagination which pretty much deals with the entire production process. It contains cast interviews, shows special effects, and is very entertaining. Robin Williams had my son rolling with laughter and I'm not even sure he understood why he was laughing. The second is a 14-minute SFX Featurette:Lions, Monkeys and Pods...Oh My! which shows the SFX team creating the lion, monkeys and pods (duh). While not as entertaining as the documentary, it helps one visualize some of the stuff talked about in the commentary. Last is the 3-minute Production Design: Bringing Down the House. While interesting, it just runs too short and should have been incorporated into one of the others I think. Roddy loves watching these even more than the movie itself and the menus are intuitive enough for him to easily maneuver through.

Storyboard to Film Comparisons:
There are three of these and they are great to watch. It is obvious that the amount of storyboarding that went into this movie was tremendous and very well done. Although I loved all three, they left me hungry for more.

Photo Galleries:
A total of 130 drawings and photos!! It is divided into two main sections—conceptual art and production stills. The most interesting part of the conceptual art section, for me at least, are the alternate title treatments. There are also early animal drawings and production design storyboards. In the production stills section, we have set photography, production design photos and photos of the various animals. Very informative and well layed out.

Talent Files:
Biographies and filmographies for Joe Johnston, Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt, Bebe Neuwirth and Bradley Pierce.

Trailers:
Here we have the Jumanji trailer along with a Jumanji teaser. We also have trailers for Madeline (live action—not animated) and Matilda.

Quite a lot of material for our money.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Is it obvious yet how much Roddy and I love this disc? This is a very entertaining movie with a great transfer, superb sound and a ton of extras. What is there not to like? If you already like the movie, the DVD is a no-brainer. If you just like well done discs, pick this one up. The only (small) drawback I see is the lack of a Joe Johnston commentary, but with everything else that is on this disc, it's not that big of a deal. Highly recommended.

 


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