How the new Jumanji movie connects to the original
It’s been over twenty years since the original Jumanji was first released, but the film remains a fan favorite for a certain generation. For years there has been talk of a follow-up feature, but now, finally, the drums of the game are starting to beat again. The jungle is coming back to life and the game is ready to play you once again. This December, Sony Pictures will release Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and ComingSoon.net had the opportunity to visit the set of the new movie last year, but don’t call it a remake and don’t call it a sequel.
“I know this is going to sound like a positioning statement, we’ve sort of always looked at it as another Jumanji adventure,” producer Matt Tolmach told us of the film. “That idea comes from the original movie, and the book, that there is this game and the game sort of travels through time and around the world and so the idea is the game is the thing that is the legacy. It’s just another Jumanji adventure.”
Instead of the game coming to life in the world around us, however, the players find themselves transported inside the game and its dangerous wilds, much like Robin Williams’ character Alan Parrish in the original movie. They’re also not shying away from the fact that that did happen once many years ago. The Jumanji that the characters find themselves in will be the jungle that Alan once ran through.
“I really don’t want to give away spoilers,” Tolmach said. “But I will say that the character that Robin played, the spirit of that character, is something that is massively important to this movie and that is reflected in the movie… And since our movie goes into the game, well that’s what he did, so his presence in this world is felt for sure.”
Speaking of the game, it’s changed some over the years as well. In a Darwinian turn, it has evolved. Survival of the fittest applies to children’s games too. In a world where board games have been relegated to an older generation and to hobbyists, Jumanji figures the best way to get played is to take on the form of a video game console.
“There’s also a mythology to how they ended up getting there,” Tolmach teases. “Without giving that away it’s also a link to the original movie.”
Eagle-eyed fans of the film may have already spotted that connection in the new trailer, which shows the original board game being picked up and put away by a teenager. There was also the reveal of a Brantford High School as the new film’s setting (Brantford, New Hampshire being the location in the first movie).
Besides literal connections to the original film, there are also some thematic ones, as director Jake Kasdan pointed out to us.
“’The game that plays you,’ that was something I always talked about while I was working on getting the movie ready. I feel like that’s really powerful storytelling stuff. That part of it, this mystical game that finds people who need it and teaches them something about themselves that they didn’t realize they needed to learn, by way of this terrifying adventure, remains very much in tact. I think we’re doing it in a different way, but it was an aspect of the original movie that I loved. To me that’s the soul of Jumanji.”
Tolmach further teased that the new film “doesn’t involve any of the specific characters” from the first movie but added the caveat of “although…perhaps…” Kasdan would chime in in regard to this later, with an even more cryptic tease, saying:
“I don’t want to say too much about it, but I also don’t want to mislead you into thinking there’s some massive reveal. I think we’ve laced it in in a way that I hope is clever. I think that (Robin’s) performance and that character are incredibly resonant and so we were very conscious of acknowledging his place at the top of ‘Jumanji Mountain.’”
For clarity’s sake, Kasdan means a metaphorical “Jumanji Mountain,” not a peak the new characters will have to climb.
It remains to be seen what these cryptic clues, much like the original movie’s limericks of doom, will mean, but when the dice reads 12/20, you can find out for yourself as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle crashes into theaters.