Every since the first cast photo for The Rock's new Jumanji movie arrived, controversy has swirled around Karen Gillan's skimpy costume in this so-called sequel to the Robin Williams' classic. Back when the image was first made public, Dwayne Johnson stated that there was a good reason for Gillan's character to be dressed like that. Now, that reason has been revealed.
Dwayne Johnson showed up to Sony Pictures' big panel at CinemaCon last night, to show off the very first footage from his Jumanji movie, which he assured early on isn't a reboot or remake, but instead a sequel to the 1995 original. Standing before a packed house, The Rock announced that his movie is titled Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. And that there is a big twist.
As revealed in the first look footage, this version of the story doesn't revolve around a board game. It is firmly centered on a video game from the 1990s. Four high schoolers are stuck in detention in an ode to the 1985 classic The Breakfast Club. As part of their punishment, they are called upon to clean the school's basement. Amongst the junk that has been locked away is an old video game console and a cartridge for Jumanji: The Video Game. Each kid gets to choose their own video game avatars. The four main characters in the game are based on the likenesses of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan. And thus, we discover why Gillan is in that sexy, tight-fitting adventure gear while her male co-stars get costumes that are more well-suited for the jungle.
Karen Gillan's character is an obvious nod to that other classic 90s video game character Lara Croft, whose Tomb Raider games debuted in 1996. It really wouldn't make sense for her to be wearing anything else in this digital environment, as the four kids are sucked into the video game world and must contend with the dangers of the jungle. When the photo debuted, many fans observed that Gillan had a very Lara Croft feel to her, and some even guessed the movie's big twist.
The kids are themselves typical archetypes of the high school era updated for the Millennial generation. They consist of a nerd, jock, pretty girl, and a quiet misfit. All that is missing is the rebel. The dork becomes Dwayne Johnson, and is amazed at his muscular new body. The jock takes on the form of Kevin Hart. The beautiful snob gets stuck in Jack Black's body, which is played for a lot of laughs. And the shy girl gets to embody the sexy Karen Gillan avatar, getting some new attention from the boys who never looked at her before. All and all, this unique take on Jumanji is really just a body-swap movie inline with Freaky Friday or Big, without being a 'body swap' movie.
Not too much footage was shown. There is a classic callback to the original Jumanji with a shot of stampeding rhinos. And the four avatars are revealed to have special powers. The Rock is super strong, while Gillan's sexy babe is a 'dance fighter', which got some big laughs. The quiet girl is quicker than anyone else to muse on how ridiculous her outfit is for jungle adventure. That said, there is a lot of running, jumping and fighting. There are slow motion fights, flame throwers and machine guns. The footage also revealed Nick Jonas' character, who knows his way around the game world a little too well.
One particularly interesting scene shows a hippo stampede. One of the big beasts eats Jack Black, taking one of his lives, just like in a video game. This doesn't bode well for anyone, as they need to finish the game to get out and back to the real world. The big reveal is that the guide within the game knows Alan Parrish, who had spent a great amount of time navigating this adventure from inside the digital world. For all you Jumanji-heads out there, you don't need to be told that Parrish is the character Robin Williams played. So, after his first adventure, did Alan get hooked on this video game? That isn't revealed.
Jumanji 2 was a big hit with the crowd in attendance, and at the Sony party afterwards, it is said to have been a big topic of conversation. This, over the other movies that were also teased at the panel, which included Spider-Man: Homecoming, Blade Runner 2049 and The Dark Tower. The movie opens this Christmas. And the first official trailer should be just around the corner.