Jumanji 2 and Hollywood's Lack of Appreciation For Tone and Source Material

Robin Williams Jumanji

Recently we got a peek at the Jumanji 2 trailer set to release later this year. The trailer was a huge hit and racked up almost 2 million views in it's first week. It appears to have all the elements a movie needs to get people into the theaters. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan are all jammed into this action comedy block buster, complete with dirt bikes, explosions and even Guns N' Roses. The only thing that seemed to be missing from the trailer was any relation at all to the original movie, apart from the name. Jumanji was released in 1995 and while some of the CG hasn't aged well, it remains a classic to this day. Marketed largely as a kids movie, it surprised critics and moviegoers alike with it's dark undertones, rich characters and an amazing story. It quickly became a classic and a staple in the Robin Williams line up of "must watch" titles. It successfully managed to make a board game seem inherently terrifying and create an unforgettable sense of fear from nothing more than the sound of some hand drums.

Why then does this sequel look like more, regurgitated, Hollywood nonsense? Essentially it comes down to the fact that writers, producers and studios ran out of ideas years ago and have resorted to reboots, remakes, and sequels to movies and shows way passed their prime. They figure if they get a name people are familiar with, like Jumanji, and a few household names like Dwayne Johnson, no one will care if the story lacks substance. This is how we end up with movies like Chips, Bay Watch, 5 Transformers titles, and so on. I will admit that this might seem like a premature rant since the movie isn't even out yet, but what about that trailer makes me think any different? No part of it is reminiscent of the property they are borrowing the name from. The nostalgia and pandering is clear in the trailer minus one thing; The board game. They swapped out one of the most iconic props in movie history for a classic Nintendo console with better graphics than is realistically possible. This is a movie that i'm sure i'll end up seeing but it'll be at a friends house or for free on Netflix. I have no desire to fund projects and perpetuate the belief among CEO's and studios that this is what fans want. I have no issue with a Jumani sequel or any sequel to a classic movie being made, for that matter, as long as it's made by someone who appreciates the source material. A sequel is supposed to be a continuation to a story or an addition into an already established universe. Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield lane managed to pull this off quite nicely. This is the same criticism comic book fans have with movies based on their favorite characters like Green Lantern, Dare Devil, Cat Woman or the Fantastic 4. So fingers crossed that this is all just a misguided assumption based on a trailer and that it doesn't damage the legacy of the original classic Jumani.