New Jumanji movie pays tribute to Robin Williams

Jack Black plays the lead role in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.
Jack Black plays the lead role in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BARCELONA •The challenge cannot be starker than black and white.

Indeed, American actor Jack Black has big comedic shoes to fill in his forthcoming project, which sees him take the lead role in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.

It is a star-studded reboot of the hit 1995 comedy that starred the late Robin Williams.

Black is making sure that he is up to the task, though he has had to make up for some lost time.

He said he watched the original film only when he was cast in the follow-up.

He also described Williams as a "genius" who was "at the peak of his powers" in the movie.

In the original Jumanji, Williams played a man who escapes from captivity inside a magical jungle- themed board game.

The new film sees that premise reversed, with the lead characters journeying into the game's fantastical world.

"In this one, we actually travel with the characters into the jungle and it's gorgeous and treacherous and exciting," Black, 47, said.

In another twist away from the original, in which Williams' character enters the game as a child and emerges as an adult, this film sees child characters transform into adults when they get pulled into the game.

Black and co-star Nick Jonas promoted the film at Cine Europe 2017, an annual cinema convention held in Barcelona.

Speaking to the media, Black noted that the movie has found a way to pay homage to Williams.

"While we're there (in the jungle), we find clues left behind by (Williams' character Alan Parrish). He built up a full-blown jungle house, similar to a Swiss Family Robinson situation.

"It's like he's there helping us without actually being there."

In addition to Black and Jonas, the film features screen muscleman Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and comedian Kevin Hart.

The movie is directed by Jake Kasdan, whom Deadline cited as saying: "(The original) really holds up. You go back and watch it.

"It's a very unusual and original kid's movie. It's unusually scary and magical, in a way that's different from a lot of other magical kid's movies."

The reboot will be out in cinemas in December.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'New Jumanji movie pays tribute to Robin Williams'. Print Edition | Subscribe