You’ve noticed the recent rash of revivals of 80’s and 90’s properties originally targeted at kids. The ones who have failed the hardest are the ones that ignore the nostalgic appeal completely and go for broke trying to rope in a new generation of kids (for example, the recent Jem and Power Rangers movies). They wind up failing at that strategy, please no one, and fade away. Unfortunately it looks like we’ll be able to add Jumanji to this list in a few short months.
The first full trailer for Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (yes, we get the song) is now out, and…..woof. Four annoying teenage stereotypes are sentenced to AV room cleanup duty as detention punishment. They find an old video game console with the word “JUMANJI” on it (inexplicably, Jumanji has turned into a video game). As soon as they select their characters and hit “START,” they’re zapped into the game and emerge in the jungle as Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillian, Kevin Hart and Jack Black. But uh-ooooh, a girl is playing the Jack Black character! Talk about wackiness!
None of the imagination or awe that made the original Jumanji so captivating can be seen here, and the main problem is the inversion of the premise. A herd of CG rhinos stomping through a four-way intersection was interesting for obvious reasons. When the characters run into rhinos here…well, it’s the jungle, where else would they be? There’s also the fact that when the wilds of Jumanji were left to your imagination, they were a lot more fanciful (especially when you saw what came out). Now we can see it. It’s…the island of Oahu.
With so many mistakes being made, it’s doubtful today’s children would be as interested in this version of Jumanji as we were with the original, and that’s a shame. Sony may be aware of this, which would explain why the movie’s getting a very very late release on the edge of January. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle opens December 20.