on December 15, 1995 by Christine James
   Based on Chris van Allsburg's book, this fantasy escapade--about an ancient, jungle-themed board game called "Jumanji," which when played has real-life consequences--was an ambitious undertaking to adapt to the screen, given that it involves mobs of malevolent monkeys, stampeding herds of rhinos and elephants, typhoons and other disasteria. But the result is a visually impressive and exhilarating adventure that keeps the suspense, thrills and comedy running high through the surprising end and supplies interesting characters with moving plights that keep the audience rooting.
   The exotic fauna and foliage are impressively realistic, except for the cartoony monkeys, who behave much like Gremlins. Amid all the adventure, an effective emotional bond is formed among four lonely people: a man (Robin Williams) who became stranded in the game while still a boy; a woman ("Only You's" Bonnie Hunt) who has yet to recover from the experience of playing "Jumanji" as a young girl; and two orphaned children ("Little Women's" Kirsten Dunst and Bradley Pierce). The very young might be frightened by the intense action and vicious animals, but this film is just the right blend of comedy, poignancy, fantasy and adventury for older children and adults alike.    Starring Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst and Bradley Pierce. Directed by Joe Johnston. Written by Jonathan Hensleigh and Greg Taylor & Jim Strain. Produced by Scott Kroopf and William Teitler. A TriStar release. Fantasy/adventure. Rated PG for menacing fantasy action and some mild language. Running time: 104 min.
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