Reboots and remakes are about as old as cinema itself. Although it's a common complaint that Hollywood is out of ideas, many tales have been taken apart and remolded into something else from the dawn of cinema, for better or for worse.
Another film to join these ever-growing ranks is Jumanji. The beloved Robin Williams classic is getting a modernized reboot in the form of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black and Kevin Hart, Welcome to the Jungle serves as a standalone sequel to the first film, as well as a soft reboot for the franchise altogether. The film's first trailer was released this week, to about the same mixed to negative reception that its announcement received.
But whether you love it or hate it, this new Jumanji is a perfect example of how Hollywood should always approach reboots.
No More Of The Same
The biggest problem with reboots of famous movies is that they're just unimaginative remakes. They try too hard to mimic the original's plot instead of its spirit.
You can't just slap a slightly altered title and a new cast on the same story and expect equally beloved results. Remember Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Johnny Depp's Wonka was immediately compared to Gene Wilder's, leading to negative results.
How about the new Ghostbusters? The controversy surrounding that film was similar to Welcome to the Jungle's, with many not wanting to see an iconic part of their childhood redone.
But unlike Ghostbusters — which, despite the new element of all-female leads, felt like a beat-for-beat remake of the original — Welcome to the Jungle throws the original Jumanji's plot out the window (onto a pillow for eternal safekeeping, of course) and instead focuses on doing something new.
Changing The Plot, Keeping The Spirit
Of course, you can only go so far with the changes until you've completely erased the elements of what made the original story so good. It's a tricky balance. Luckily, Welcome to the Jungle doesn't seem to have this problem.
As the trailer shows, the film does have changes, like how we're sucked into the world of Jumanji rather than it coming to ours in the original — or how Jumanji is now a video game rather than a board game. But at its core, this sequel/soft-reboot shares many of the same elements of the first film.
I'm not going to pretend that I don't understand the controversy, because I do. The original is a classic, thanks in no small part to the beloved performance of the late Robin Williams.
I'm not sure if this new Jumanji will be able to live up to the original, but at the same time, I don't think it's trying to. Instead, it's trying to expand on the world that the original presented — the mystery and the danger of it. It's showing us a familiar story in a new way, a new light.
This is how Hollywood should approach reboots. Rather than try and recreate the original film, build upon its spark of inspiration. Take its legacy and make something new — and perhaps even just as good. It's taking a step in the right direction, because it's a step in a new direction.
What do you think about the trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle? Sound off in the comments below!