Film Discussion

Jumanji – does it need a sequel?

Jumanji has become a classic film, beloved by people who were children when it was first released twenty years ago, it’s place in people’s hearts boosted in large part because of the loss of Robin Williams, his death having elevated the nostalgia factor of many of his films.

After twenty years Jumanji is finally receiving a sequel, starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black. But should Jumanji really have a sequel? One of the biggest criticisms for the sequel release that I have seen, even before anyone had seen the film, or even a photograph of the cast, is that it’s wrong to produce a sequel to a Robin Williams film without Robin Williams. Whilst I can see where these people are coming from, this argument doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle doesn’t include Robin Williams’ character in the story, so does it matter that he’s passed away?

This wouldn’t be the first film franchise that has had a beloved actor pass away. Heath Ledger’s death after The Dark Knight had people saying that they couldn’t make The Dark Knight Rises, even though The Joker wasn’t in the third film; and just recently the Star Wars films have been rocked by the death of Carrie Fisher, but that doesn’t mean that Episode IX won’t be made because she’s no longer around.

Even if Williams’ character was supposed to be in this new film, they could still cast another actor in his role. I know that this is the kind of choice that many people are against, but it’s a move that if often made in Hollywood in order to maintain the integrity of the story that the filmmakers want to tell. Could you imagine Harry Potter if they hadn’t recast Dumbledore after Richard Harris’ death. Even if you discount death as a reason for recasting a character, changing an actor in a role happens all the time; look at how many people have played Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane on Game of Thrones, or the two Aunt Viv’s on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Robin Williams aside, I’ve seen people argue that it’s been too long since the first film to do a sequel. So? There are so many films that have had a twenty year gap between them, or even longer, many that have been so well received and didn’t have people arguing that they shouldn’t be made. Mad Max: Fury Road had a 29 year gap between it and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (and also recast Max for those paying attention). Tron Legacy had a 28 year gap. Return To Oz had a 45 year gap following The Wizard of Oz.

A two to three year gap between films is only a fairly new thing in film, with many older franchises, films that are seen as classics, having several years between films. If twenty years feels like too long a gap for you, then fine, you don’t have to watch it. If you feel that it’s been too long for the original audience to care let it be for a new audience. Let’s not forget, this isn’t even the first sequel to Jumanji that has been produced, and is also not the first to not include Robin Williams. An animated sequel series ran for three years following the release of the film, one that included the Robin Williams character. Whilst people may not be aware of this, or could have forgotten it’s existence, it shows that Jumanji is capable of existing beyond the original film.

The new Jumanji film may not appeal to you, you may feel that it’s been too long since the last film, that it shouldn’t be made without Robin Williams, that it’s too different from the original, or even that it ‘ruins your childhood’ (really shit argument by the way for anyone that ever says this), but then perhaps this film isn’t being made for you. Perhaps it’s time that you let go of your possession of the original and let a whole new generation of fans discover the franchise.

Have you seen Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle? Let us know what you made of it.

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