Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

This week on the blog, we take an excursion to the jungle with the redux of the 1995 classic, Jumanji. While the original film was best remembered as a generally dark film carried by the inimitable late actor Robin Williams, this reboot leads with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and is much lighter in feel, causing quite a bit of debate in the comments section on YouTube and other sites.

The trailer opens with some nondescript handclaps and a few light acoustic guitar notes, conjuring an atmosphere that befits the high school setting we’re introduced to. Immediately, it’s understood that this definitely isn’t the Jumanji of the mid-90s.

Subtly, once the teens find the game – now a video game, no longer a board game in this iteration – the hand claps turn into ticking sounds, and we get that now-classic “brwaaaap” sound that now seems to be the international sonic short hand for “stuff is about to go down.”

As the teens select their avatars for the game, each selection is sync’d to the music, ramping up musical and dramatic tension as they get closer to completing the selection process. Then, as you knew would happen if you were familiar with the original film, they are physically sucked into the world of the game.

At 0:57 we hear heavier, orchestral, rampant percussion as the tracking shot reveals Dwayne Johnson as the new avatar for one of the teens. At 1:09 we get our first title cards and the introduction of the second, more comedic third of the trailer. We hear the first few strums of a heavily processed electric guitar, which builds as the characters discover their new avatars they inhabit. The music cuts out as Johnson consoles himself, telling himself he won’t cry, employing a classic visual sight gag as his words contrast sharply with his physical build.

By 1:46, we get the first clearly identifiable music track employed in the trailer, which is perhaps a little too on the nose: Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle.” Of course. In fact, the track is introduced exactly at the point singer Axl Rose rings the lyric from which the song’s title is derived, which kicks off the final third of the trailer with a montage of action shots, still stopping at one point to deliver another comedic line courtesy of Jack Black. The main title card arrives at 2:16 with a strong final chord from the guitar, only to add one last comedic sequence, finally ending for real at 2:30 with the title card announcing its Christmas release window.

Somewhat like the Spiderman reboot we covered recently, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle presents an unabashed reimagining of the core conceptual universe and tone of the original 1995 film, creating a film that stands on its own. Sony is inarguably taking the original 90s concept in a new direction, for a new generation – albeit, not without the astute use of some classic 90s music.

– Curtis Perry