Cinema does not need to be coherent to be understood. Some art is not made to be chronological, or easily understandable, or accessible to a wide audience. Equally, however, criticism has the right – or even the responsibility – to dismantle the layers of a film and peer at what’s underneath, so that we may debate the meaning which lofty imagery may convey. The problem with I Was at Home, But, is that this meaning never really appears, leaving nothing but frameless minimalism masquerading as a greater film.
What a strange award season you are, we whisper in our best Cate Blanchett impression. It indeed is. But this year strangeness comes from not the unpredictability of the season, but the exact opposite. If you asked us months ago, we’d say that the upcoming award season was going to be full of fun with so many films that differ from each other. But alas, we spent the whole season watching same people win and listen to same speeches so much that the only way to differentiate them is through the winners’ clothes. Almost every main category at Academy Awards look locked at this point, so as the Much Ado team, we left predictions aside and ranked the nominees in main eight categories!
Picture the scene: a half-full cinema screen on a Saturday afternoon, a loud chattering of many teenage boys, a slightly off-putting scent of theatre food. When seated amongst this crowd, painfully hungover and desperate for light relief, there is a sudden blissful realisation of the very low expectations that one can credibly have for a movie such as the Jumanji remake. There is no pressure for this blockbuster to make any kind of impact on the cinematic world, nor is there anticipation for a mind-blowing script, notable acting skills, or clever direction. As a viewer, you’re sat amid people who share the understanding that what they are about to see is not exactly going to be Oscar material. Honestly, at this point, you just want some cool explosions to distract from the throbbing headache that triple vodka caused the night before.
The fact that ‘Jumanji’ manages to pull off two hours of thoroughly enjoyable entertainment, then, is a pleasant surprise. In fact, it’s proof that remakes, sequels and other such “popcorn movies” should be held up to a certain standard, even if that standard relies on their ability to successfully entertain and little else. Every inch of this movie is intended to keep the viewer in a comfortable lull of real life avoidance, and though there are many flaws that cannot be ignored, ultimately, these flaws do not lead to an overall critical failure.