Right in time for the big winter holiday movie season, get ready for the arrival of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” the sequel to the much beloved 1995 film “Jumanji.” There’s a lot to unpack here about this new film, especially since there was initially quite a bit of confusion over whether this film was intended to be a “reboot” or a “sequel.” Here’s what to expect from “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”
For many moviegoers of the 1990s, the name of the movie “Jumanji” is inseparably linked to the name of the comic legend Robin Williams, who passed away in August 2014. In the original movie, Robin Williams played the role of Alan Parrish, a scientist who was trapped in the world of Jumanji. In that movie, the board game “Jumanji” became a portal into the other world – and it’s also what led to the arrival of all sorts of wildlife – including rampaging rhinos and elephants – magically appearing in the real world.
Thus, for director Jake Kasdan, there was a bit of a conundrum of how to handle the sequel, given how tightly it was bound up in the personality of Robin Williams. When movie studio plans were originally floated to make a sequel back in August 2015 – just a year after the tragic passing of Robin Williams – Internet fans rose up and said it was still too early to make the film.
It became clear at that point that the film would have to include some sort of tribute to Robin Williams – and the decision was made to insert a few clues about Alan Parrish saw in the world of Jumanji throughout the sequel. And Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, one of the co-stars of the film, has been very vocal about explaining how much he loved the work of Robin Williams, and how much the original film meant to him.
The central premise of this film is that four high school kids discover an old videogame console that magically transports them back into the world of Jumanji – the same world that Alan Parrish had emerged from nearly 20 years ago. The one catch here is the kids must take on the avatar profiles from the video game. It just so happens that the four main avatars are Dwayne Johnson (as Dr. Smolder Bravestone), Kevin Hart (as Moose Finbar), Jack Black (as Professor Shelly Oberon) and Karen Gillan (as Ruby Roundhouse).
There’s a lot of humor and laughs in there, because each of these characters has only passing resemblance to the high school teen. For example, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is actually a 16-year-old kid who’s afraid of everything and has
absolutely no idea what it’s like to throw a punch or take on evil villains. And here’s the funniest part – the character of Jack Black is actually an extremely attractive blonde high school girl, so you can immediately see how her avatar is a bit hard for her classmates to figure out: What in the world is she doing with the body of a middle-aged man?
As of now, plans are to release “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” in both 3D and IMAX 3D, so you can just imagine what kind of amazing action sequences are going to be in the movie. Based on the teaser trailer clips released by the movie studio, the rampaging animals in the world of Jumanji are going to be huge, 3D marvels. In one scene, for example, a giant hippo appears to swallow up one of the four teens – and the other three have to decide what to do next.
In the original “Jumanji,” the basic concept was that a mysterious board game provided the link or portal to the magical world of Jumanji. Here, the basic concept is that an old video game console provides the link back. That provides a convenient explanation for how the main characters turn out to be the likes of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart –they are simply video game avatars.
And that naturally leads to the tagline of the new movie, “You don’t play Jumanji, Jumanji plays you.” The idea here is that the kids can’t escape from the world of Jumanji until they change the way they think and act. Otherwise, they will be “stuck in the game forever.”
That’s a central point that Dwayne Johnson, in an interview, pointed out. In many ways, this new sequel “flips the script.” In the first film, the magical world of Jumanji came to the real world; in the sequel, the kids from the real world enter the magical world of Jumanji. We finally get to see what Alan Parrish experienced when he went there.
As Karen Gillan (as Ruby Roundhouse) explained further in a different interview, “We got to see exactly where he went, what it feels like, and what it looks like.” Presumably, we will find traces of Alan Parrish’s life throughout this imaginary Jumanji world.
It’s not a big surprise that a huge mega-blockbuster is being released just days ahead of the winter holidays – but what is a bit surprising is the explanation for this timing. Dwayne Johnson, for example, has suggested that this movie will help to explain “what the holiday spirit really means.”
There’s one other clue from all the trailers, interviews and teaser videos circulating around the Internet that’s worth exploring further – and that’s the presence of multiple Jumanji worlds. Some of the clips have suggested that there is not just one Jumanji, but several Jumanjis, almost like a multi-dimensional universe. And that means there could be plenty more adventures coming up soon.
With each new film, for example, the brave adventurers could decide to visit another Jumanji world. We’ll find out more when the film officially premieres on December 20. One thing is certain, though – “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” might just end up becoming one of the biggest hits of the holiday season.