We’ve Got Mixed Feelings About the Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Trailer

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So the new Jumanji  movie finally got a trailer, showcasing a lot of big changes from the 1995 film and I honestly have no idea how to feel about it all. On one hand, I love the 1995 Jumanji and feel like this version, directed by Jake Kasdan, takes away so many of the greatest elements. On the other hand, I respect that they’re trying to do something different and changing things up, since it’s been 22 years and no one should try and encroach on Robin Williams.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle stars four teenage players who don’t get along, but are forced to do after school chores together, Breakfast Club style. In the school basement, they come across a mysterious game, but it’s not the board game we all know and love. Instead, it’s a retro gaming console that transports them into the jungle. The same jungle that Alan Parrish was trapped in for nearly his entire life. They then become the avatars of the game, and the story turns over to Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan who are jungle character archetypes.

The action sequences look great, and it’s undeniable that the film is making use of the special effects that were not accessible for the 1995 version. Still, what I loved about Jumanji (1995) was the sense that the jungle was overtaking your regular life and the narrative that involved both childhood and adulthood. There was a very real fear that accompanied the film, and the fact that the jungle wasn’t present made it even more frightening. The vast and invisible jungle within the board game was terrifying because you never knew what it would have in store and what would come next.

Welcome to the Jungle feels more like an action-comedy, which isn’t a bad thing. To step out of its predecessor’s shadow is a challenge that any sequel/reboot has to deal with, and with the nostalgia for Jumanji as well as Williams’ memory, the film has a lot to live up to. Still, I’m not of the mindset that any sequel can compromise or “ruin” the original, so even if Welcome to the Jungle doesn’t quite capture the magic of the first, it might still be a funny and entertaining watch which is fine. Watching full-grown adults play teenagers is tricky though, and might get a little tiring if these characters are just their “types.” A teenage girl in Jack Black’s body goes, “I can’t even with this place…” at one point.

The trailer also explains why Gillian is dressed like an old-school video game character. The trailer itself takes a few shots at how completely impractical that design is, but I’m not fully on board with the idea that just because you point out you’re using a sexist trope exempts you for using a sexist trope. If the only female player is half naked the entire time, I’m already a little skeptical (Jack Black playing a teenage girl trapped in Jack Black’s body does not count).

What did you think about the trailer, friends?

(via Deadline, image: screencap)

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