The second trailer for the upcoming Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was released earlier this week.
The sequel to the 1995 classic has taken some notable divergences from the original. Most notably, the world altering board game has now taken the form of an old 1980s games console. The reason for this decision is given in this latest trailers, as “nobody plays board games anymore”. Now while there still exist those self loathing wretches who dust off board games to play with their equally greasy friends, such as myself, I understand that some change may have had to been made so as to interest the hyped up, iPhone wielding, foaming at the mouth children of today. Of course, why anybody would choose to play an old Colecovision console is an open question. If the Jumanji board game truly wished to bring its horror to the modern generation, it should have just become an early access release on Steam.
Anyway, the film has taken many other steps away from the original formula. Firstly, the game now sucks in the unlucky protagonists into another world, one that manifests as a budget Far Cry game, complete with mercenary bad guys, animal attacks and awful vehicle sections. While this does seem to be setting up a fun action film, it is also distracting from the sense of dread and horror the original had. While there were many comic sections to Jumanji, the board game itself was played very straight as an object of pure evil, conveyed brilliantly by the performances of Robin Williams and co. The sequel seems to be aiming for a much lighter tone throughout, which may make it seem far more trivial to fans of the original.
An interesting decision is that each of the archetypical high-schoolers actually change into different people within the game world. The Rock’s character is in reality a total nerd, Kevin Hart is a tall jock, Karen Gillian is a bookworm and Jack Black is a… high school cheerleader. This seems like it will make for a lot of decent comedy, and is one of the aspects I am most excited to see.
Overall, it seems that the film would favour better if it just dropped its connection to Jumanji and played itself as a spiritual successor, much in the way that Zathura did back in 2005. This would allow the movie to aim for its different tone and not make it compare favourably with the original. Still, we will have to wait until its release on 20 December before we can make our final judgements on the movie.