Nobody really expected Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle to be any good. At least, nobody who remembered the original 1995 film fondly. Of course, it turned out to be a pretty enjoyable experience. Certainly more enjoyable than the first pictures suggested. Thanks to Karen Gillan’s unnecessarily revealing costume, it seemed as though it was suffering from the same sexist approach as other Hollywood films. It turned out there wasn’t quite so much to worry about and the film made just under $1 billion worldwide. With figures like that, it was inevitable that a sequel would be on its way and, two years later, Jumanji: The Next Level was released. I had mixed feelings about the film. Part of me was really excited to see if they could match or, perhaps, better the 2017 film. The other part was worried that it would go the way of most Hollywood sequels. Wanting something fun and carefree to watch on my holiday, I decided it was finally time to find out.
Do you know what we don’t talk about enough? Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for an Oscar for using blackface. Now I don’t necessarily want to criticise Robert Downey Jr or the film itself. I also don’t necessarily want to give it a pass either. I just think the fact that the academy thought it was Oscar-worthy is a bit weird, right? I mean, how often do they nominate a comic performance for anything? Then they pick the one where a white dude is acting like a Black dude? I find it weird. In terms of the film, I get what RDJ and Ben Stiller were getting at. It’s the lengths that actors go to fully immerse themselves into a role. Officially, RDJ is in blackface but it’s more complicated than that. The character isn’t a Black man but a white actor playing a Black character. I guess you can argue that it raises questions and adds to the conversation. At least more than something like Little Britain did. But, at the same time, you have to ask if nominating the actor for an Oscar legitimises the practice more. Instead of just being a humorous footnote in history.