For those who don't remember Jumanji (1995), the film centered around of a group of people stuck together, due to a magical board game requiring them to complete the game or face a lifetime stuck in a dystopian world full of mischievous and dangerous animals running a muck. The original Jumanji fit perfectly in the time it debuted, as board games were all the rage at the time. However, the newest installment in the Jumanji franchise, Jumanji 2 might not be as well received with its focal points centered around a board game. In today's entertainment industry, board games aren't quite as popular as they were a couple decades ago - so when it comes to news of a Jumanji sequel being in the works, that may worry fans of the classic Jumanji film.
To address those concerns, let's take a look at a new report that has shed some wanted insight on the plot of Jumanji 2. Specifically, the Hollywood Reporter has new details of Alex Wolff's character in Jumanji 2:
"Wolff will play a boy named Spencer whose avatar in the game is being played by [Dwayne] Johnson and named Dr. Smolder Bravestone."
Yes, that sounds a whole lot like a Jumanji video game. Considering how Wolff's character of Spencer is going to require an avatar to portray him in the game, that tidbit of information indirectly tells us two very revealing things of the plot in Jumanji 2.
What Does This News Tell Us Abut 'Jumanji 2'?
For one, we know Jumanji 2 is going to follow a group of young kids who find the Jumanji game and select "avatars" to represent themselves, such as Dwayne Johnson's character. Spencer is going to be controlling Johnson's character of Dr. Smolder Bravestone somehow, which seems to back up a popular fan theory that suggests the original Jumanji board game will be replaced by a Jumanji video game.
There hadn't been any validity to that rumor until the details surrounding Alex Wolff's role in the film were released in the report by the Hollywood Reporter.
To add to Wolff's role in Jumanji 2 providing us with some insight into the plot, Collider also chimed in with a report of their own to confirm these assumptions. And with both reports indicating similar conclusions, it's fairly clear Jumanji 2 is going to replace the Jumanji board game for a video game:
[T]he movie will focus on a video game of Jumanji that their characters are sucked into to become the avatars played by Johnson, Hart, Gillan, and Jack Black. If the Jumanji game is meant to be an amalgamation of cues from popular adventure games, Gillan looking like Lara Croft suddenly makes a little more sense, even if the good intentions still seem a bit dubious.
And here's a tweet by Mashable reporter Jeff Sneider. Sneider's tweet was the basis of the original rumor going around, revealing how the plot of Jumanji 2 would replace the Jumanji board game for a video game.
Yes, it's true. The original board game that was Jumanji is seemingly no longer existent in Jumanji 2. Instead, the board game has been replaced by a video game — which makes sense with a modern-day approach being taken to keep up with the times. And it seems to make one thing very clear: Jumanji 2 is drawing a hard line away from the original plot of Jumanji (1995).
Are We Getting A Sequel Or A De Facto Reboot?
Learning that the Jumanji board game has been replaced by a video game alters the entire premise of the franchise. Not to mention how the plot of Jumanji 2 couldn't be any farther away from the original story of Jumanji that began with the book by Chris Van Allsburg.
Originally, Jumanji was conceived as a book about a magical board game that unexpectedly dropped animals into the lives of anyone who played it. Granted, the concept of four unsuspecting individuals being trapped in a game against a world of malevolent animals out to get them (the premise of Jumanji) is still prevalent in Jumanji 2, but — from the sound of it — the game is no longer being played out by the human characters who find themselves in life-or-death situations. Instead, those life or death situations will be acted out by meaningless video game avatars.
Considering that there are no real stakes in playing a video game, there are the perilous stakes in Jumanji 2 either? Unless the human players are somehow sucked into the video game (or the avatars get loose into the real world) there's no real danger being encountered by the central cast We also have to consider the possibility of the Jumanji video game having a functioning reset button. Like most video games, the Jumanji video game will probably come equipped with a reset button which means using a reset button would negate any ill-wanted conclusions.
So there's a big plot hole just waiting for fans to dig deep into, also giving them reason to criticize the production team on Jumanji 2 for not considering the basic functions of a video game having an effect on how a Jumanji video game would function within the plot of the film.
The Rock Still Denies It's A Reboot
That being said, even though the new plot details make Jumanji 2 sound like a reboot, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is still adamant that Jumanji 2 is a continuation of the original Jumanji, not a reboot. Here's Johnson's Instagram post alluding to production on Jumanji 2.
Considering that no elements from the original Jumanji film have publicly made it into Jumanji 2 so far, and a critical piece in the original film has been written out for a modern-day take on it, fans have to wonder how the two stories can possibly connect.
Is The Video Game A Conversion Of The Board Game?
Taking into account that the Jumanji board game is being replaced by a video game and none of the original cast are returning (based on public announcements, anyway), there isn't much else that seems to be connecting the original Jumanji to the new film. Is the video game in Jumanji 2 perhaps based on the canonical board game from the first, presented as a a digital update that has the same stampeding result?
Either way, the production team has quite a task ahead of them in successfully linking the two films. If they accomplish that feat, it will be very impressive. If they fail, the reality (no matter what the production team says) is that Jumanji 2 will be what we all feared from the beginning — a reboot of a classic film that didn't need to be rebooted.
Jumanji 2 is expected to premiere on July 28, 2017.
Is the video game angle too much of a change, or is it too early to make judgments?
Source: The Hollywood Reporter