There is a brand new Jumanji in theaters this week and it is apparently … not terrible? I'm as surprised as you are, seeing as the sequel sees four teenagers accidentally sucked into a video game version of the classic board game and into the bodies of Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, and Kevin Hart. As always, reboots, reimaginings, and long (un)awaited sequels have us thinking about our childhoods and the original material from whence they came and upon doing so for this film I realized I've always had one huge unanswered question:
Who the hell invented this game and where do I get their magic powers?
Think about it. The person who created the original Jumanji board game has to be some kind of wizard, right? Presumably, a wizard who hates children, which, to some degree I understand. The game has a magical centerpiece that generates gameplay in a pretty specific order, so you get animals, then vegetation, then monsoons, slowly turning your giant mansion into the jungle. For that matter, the thing literally creates, not just matter, but LIVING THINGS and it manages to do so in a way that's just random enough so you sometimes have to go looking for the lion in your aunt's bedroom or the monkeys in your kitchen, but not so random that they end up 5 miles away and you're none the wiser.
Then there's the matter of the portal. The game is a portal, right? That's the only way it could suck young Robin Williams in when he was 16 and then spit him back out as an adult. Or how it could spit out all those animals, or that really terrifying embodiment of daddy issues and European colonialism.
It's smart! Like, contains actual intelligence. That, or it reads minds because, as we discover when the new set of kids begins playing the game, it knows not only that there were other people playing it, but who they are. Like, it can tell that you are not Bonnie Hunt (it probably even knows the difference between Bonnie and Helen). It probably even forced the kids to roll a 5 or 8 so it would be allowed, by its own rules, to let Robin Williams out of its jungle portal and back into suburbia, because otherwise that game would be stuck mid-play for all eternity. It could even sense Peter's intentions when he attempted to cheat the game and drop the dice on a specific number.
Does it have eyes? Is it always watching? Is there someone inside the game playing the drums or does it generate its own soundtrack?
Oh, and I haven't even gotten to the part where it also seems to control time itself. You know, cause at the end, when they finally do manage to beat the game and suck everything back into its magical jungle portal, Alan and Sarah end up right back in Alan's living room on the night he was originally sucked into the game. And before you tell me that maybe the whole thing was just a hallucination, they remember everything that happened to them in the 30 years since. Time travel.
So I ask you, is the game magic? Or is it some kind of maniacal science experiment released into the world to study … I don't know, the way children deal with stress or something? And either way, who exactly created it? Do they hate children? Are they crazy? Are they in the market for an apprentice?