Jumaji appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Most of the transfer looked positive, as only a few issues cropped up to cause distractions.
None of the problems related to sharpness, which was one of the movie’s stronger elements. Nary a hint of softness crept into the image. It always left a tight and well-defined impression. I noticed no problems with jagged edges or moiré effects, but mild edge enhancement was visible at times.
Source flaws never became major, but they existed. Occasional examples of specks and grit popped up through the movie. I also noticed a few small streaks, and the film could be a little grainy. It remained acceptably clean the majority of the time, though.
Colors could be a little subdued but they came across nicely within the film’s palette. The tones seemed full and rich, with good accuracy. Blacks were deep and firm, but I sometimes found the image to appear overly dark, which I think was a result of the original production design.
Actually, I believe the filmmakers kept things shadowy to hide the flaws of the computer imagery as much as possible; the brighter the setting, the more obvious the fakery. Unfortunately, this didn't work very well, since the CGI still looked poor, and the remainder of the movie appeared too dark. Shadow detail wasn't bad but suffered from this overall issue; dimly lit scenes often were a little hard to watch. While clearly not a flawless picture, Jumanji still looked solid for the most part, and it occasionally presented terrific visuals.
I also liked the film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The only real issue I took with this mix concerned its soundfield. While effective, I felt it seemed too heavily biased toward the front speakers and that the mix didn't take advantage of some good opportunities for solid surround sound. For example, the scene were the giant mosquitoes entered kept them almost entirely in the front; they could have really buzzed around the room and made the segment even more exciting.
Still, the track did present a reasonably good soundstage. Audio was balanced well between channels and lacked an overly speaker-specific presentation. Quality usually seemed positive. I noticed occasional edginess to dialogue, particularly when spoken by Alan's father. The remainder of the audio appeared free from distortion, and speech always was easily intelligible.
Effects and music were well reproduced most of the time. Word of warning: this was a loud mix, so don't be surprised if your neighbors call the cops on you! It really shook things up, especially from the very strong bass response.
Actually, I thought the effects poured on a little too much low-end, as those aspects could become overwhelming. For instance, the first scenes with the lion came across as excessively boomy. Otherwise, this added punch to the many effects scenes, and the drums that are the game's calling card seemed wonderfully deep and ominous. While I'd prefer a little more ambition in regard to this track's surround usage, it's still a good mix that you should find quite satisfying, though your neighbors may not agree.
How did the picture and audio of this Deluxe Edition compare to those of the 1999 Special Edition? Both discs seemed identical. When I made my comparisons, I couldn’t detect any differences. Even all the same print flaws showed up in the same spots.
The Deluxe Edition replicates many of the Special Edition’s supplements – though not all of them – and adds some new pieces. I’ll mark anything new to the DE with an asterisk. If you fail to see a star, it’s a repeat from the SE.
On DVD One, we open with a running audio commentary from a wide variety of personnel who worked on the film's special effects. We hear from special effects supervisor Ken Ralston, special makeup designers/animatronic effects developers Tom
Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis, computer imagery supervisor Karl Frederick, monkey sequence supervisor Doug Smythe, computer graphics supervisor Ellen Coon and computer graphics artist Jim Mitchell. It sounded like only Woodruff and Gillis appear together; I think everyone else was recorded separately and this commentary results from an edited compilation of those interviews.
Based on that lineup, you won’t be surprised to learn that various nuts and bolts aspects of filmmaking dominate this track. We get many comments about computer generated imagery but also learn a fair amount about animatronics, practical effects, and various other kinds of movie magic.
Obviously this means that if you’re not interested in that information, you won’t want to listen to the track. If you do want to learn more about effects, though, this is a good piece. It can become a little technical and dry at times, but not nearly as frequently as I’d expect. Indeed, it usually proves to be lively and engaging. In addition to the raw data, we get nice insights such as how the actors work with the elements and who does it best in Hollywood. Many of the participants have worked on other notable shows, and they occasionally reflect on those. This commentary ends up as surprisingly enjoyable.
One question arises, though: whatever happened to the Jumanji sequel Ralston planned to direct? He mentions it here, but six years later, it seems to have vanished without a trace.
DVD One also presents a few minor elements. *Secrets and Riddles offers a trivia game. It asks questions related to the film. Most are pretty easy if you’ve watched the flick. Don’t expect a big reward for completion, though.
*Extreme Book of Nature provides factoids about the movie’s animal elements. We learn a little about crocodiles, lions, monkeys, mosquitoes, spiders and stampedes. These prove moderately informative.
A fun piece, *Ancient Diversions teaches you some simple magic tricks. These include “Mind Reading”, “Magic String”, “Disappearing Paper”, “Severed Finger”, “Life After Death” and “Invisible Ink”. Kids should have a good time using these.
DVD One opens with some ads. We get promos for Zathura, Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild and Open Season. These also appear in the *Previews area along with trailers for Christmas With the Kranks and the Zathura videogame.
Moving to DVD Two, we open with a documentary called Making Jumanji - The Realm of Imagination. This 20-minute piece covers some general aspects of the film's creation. We see movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. The latter include remarks from Woodruff, Gillis, director Joe Johnston, producer Scott Kroopf, production designer James Bissell, ILM’s Mark Miller, and actors Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst, David Alan Grier, and Bradley Pierce. We find a basic overview of the story and characters, effects issues, the atmosphere during the shoot, set design and related topics, and how the actors dealt with the various complications.
“Realm” definitely falls into the category of "studio promotional puff-piece" but it seems enjoyable and moderately informative nonetheless. We get some fun cracks with Hunt and Williams plus a lot of good footage from the set. It ain't a thorough documentary, but it's interesting and informative.
Next up is a special effects featurette called Lions and Monkeys and
Pods... Oh My! This 14-minute and 32-second program focuses on the same issues discussed in the commentary, except now we get visuals as well and we're treated to a lot of behind the scenes footage that illustrates the creation of the visuals. We get more notes from Miller, Woodruff, maquette sculptor Richard Miller, and CG supervisors Carl Frederick and Doug Smythe. It's a lot of fun, mainly due to all the clips of how they created the effects.
The final featurette sticks to production design. It's called Bringing Down the House and spends three minutes and four seconds with production designer Jim Bissell as he runs through issues about the house where much of the action in Jumanji takes place. It's brief but useful.
Storyboards can be found in that section. We see boards for three scenes: "Bats" (one minute, 31 seconds), "Rhino Stampede" (1:12), and "Earthquake" (0:54). I think these work well. We see the boards themselves, which dominate the TV screen, with a small inset of the actual scene in the lower right corner. This is about the best board-to-film comparison technique I've seen and it makes the presentation work nicely.
A slew of still frame materials also appear on the Jumanji DVD in the Photo Galleries section. This is divided into two subheadings: "Conceptual Art" and "Production Stills". The former contains 39 stills, while the latter offers 91. I'm not a huge fan of production illustrations, but these are pretty good and are presented efficiently. A number of additional sub-areas appear that make finding the stills you want very manageable.
In an unusual twist, the DVD’s slipcase turns into a boardgame. This allows you to play along with the movie and turn it into an interactive experience. I have no idea if this is any fun, but it’s a creative option.
What does this “Deluxe Edition” lose from the original Special Edition? The primary omission comes from the absence of an isolated score; the SE included James Horner’s music all on its own. The set also drops two Jumanji trailers as well as a booklet and Talent Files.
After a decade, the special effects of Jumanji look awfully creaky, but the movie still provides enough fun to make it enjoyable. The DVD presents good picture and audio along with some nice extras. If you don’t have the old DVD, go ahead and snag this one. However, anyone who already owns the prior special edition won’t need to bother with the Deluxe Edition. It’s not an improvement over its predecessor.