A Tale of Two Movies
have a fairly satisfying climax when the characters overcome their flaws.
Downsizing had a lot more places to go in my opinion. At best Jumanji was an action comedy with a decent character arc. On the other hand Downsizing had huge opportunities to look at the human condition and it touched on a lot of them. It mentioned racism, environmentalism, classicism, poverty and even the end of the world, but it didn't focus on any of them. It spent time explaining the science of the premise when no one needed that, then spent longer than it needed explaining why the main character wanted to downsize. It took time to introduce characters then they disappeared from the story. From there it began to make some headway as a romance only to almost entirely forget about that to go into a plot about the end of the world, though the only evidence of that was that someone said it and while all of this could have been in service of exploring the character they didn't make it clear what that arc should be.
While the lack of focus is a major problem for Downsizing it has it's good points. The world is striking. Whoever did the props went above and beyond. Whether it was having them interact with things that are "normal" size, which of course turn out to be huge or the fact that many of the things had no fine details because they had been made by
normal size people. It was subtle yet able to remind you regularly that this wasn't just the normal world.
These two movies are emblematic of a lot of movies recently. Those that focus on simply telling a good story are enjoyable even when they are not great while those that try to do to many different things or serve movies that has not even been made yet. A TV show can afford to change its focus and drop plot points, at least for a while, but in a movie you need to know what you're doing and do that. Jumanji was a thin movie and at times it felt as if it were wearing out it's welcome, but it knew what it wanted to be and was that. Meanwhile, Downsizing never decided what it wanted to be so while it never bordered on repetitive in the end I'd rather face the possibility that something might get repetitive than the feeling of never knowing what the movie I was watching was.