Instead of being a nice safe board game, Jumanji keeps throwing all manner of malevolent real-life dangers our young players' way - from fierce jungle animals to natural disasters to never seeing your parents again - and it all begins its smashing within the delicate safety of the kids' home.
Worse, when each challenge is escaped, it still never really goes away. The result is a town outside the window that is becoming increasingly ravaged by earthquakes, swarms of poisonous wasps, and fast-growing flesh-eating plant life.
Oh, and a big game hunter called Van Pelt, but he's one of the movie's comic reliefs. The sequence where they all fight back at him using whatever's on sale at the local supermarket is just like watching a Home Alone short. (yes, I'm pulling that face now...)
There is danger almost all the way through this one, ramped up considerably by there being no corporeal intelligence to bargain with at the centre of it all. Had this been an episode of Doctor Who, then you can bet the evil game's box would have presently begun bragging out loud about its plans, and laughing. Long, and heartily.
There are a few moments where a needed explanation appears to have been cut, but these seem to me to be minor. I'm thinking of the (lone) cop who almost runs Alan over but then tries to arrest him (!), the medics who vanish when bugs attack the car, and why on Earth Sarah agrees to play the game again. But hey, maybe that was just the Moviemix channel deciding to drop some lines for time.
Jumanji is a well-made epic ride, and all the more impressive for pulling together so many different genres. For the most part I found it very well thought through, and although many of the effects have not dated terribly well, the conviction of the whole cast ensure that they have lost nothing of their dread-factor.
But really, don't throw the game away, just burn it already.
This afternoon, somewhere beyond the bottom of our garden, I could hear a drum kit beating away.
I've always assumed that sort of thing to merely be a neighbour playing around with an actual drum kit, but now... (shudder)...
(Available here. Don't buy the wrong product.)