Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a new action adventure comedy film directed by Jake Kasdan and written by Kasdan, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner, from a story by McKenna. A standalone sequel to Jumanji (1995), the film stars Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Nick Jonas and Bobby Cannavale. The plot follows four teenagers who are transported into the video game world of Jumanji, and, playing as the characters they chose, must beat the game in order to return to the real world. The film is also a tribute to Robin Williams, star of the original film, who died in 2014.
In 1996, teenager Alex Vreeke receives the original Jumanji board game after his father finds it while jogging on a beach, but puts it aside, dismissively noting that nobody plays board games anymore, instead playing a video game involving motorcycles. Overnight, the game changes so that the box’s contents are now a video game cartridge, but when Alex puts it in his console and turns it on, he vanishes.
Twenty years later, high school student Spencer Gilpin is sent to detention for helping his former best friend, Anthony “Fridge” Johnson, with his homework by writing Fridge’s essays for him. They are joined by Bethany Walker, a beautiful girl who was caught talking on her phone during a quiz, and Martha Kaply, a socially awkward girl who objected to being made to participate in gym class. For detention, they are charged by Principal Bentley with removing the staples from discarded magazines in an old storage area, but Spencer discovers the console containing the Jumanji game and convinces the others to play it with him. They are unable to access one of the five-player options, a pilot, but once all four others have been selected, the game draws them all inside it.
Finding themselves in a jungle, all four are shaken to realize that they have become the avatars they chose for the game, with the result that Fridge is now a short zoologist, Bethany is now an overweight middle-aged man, Martha is a beautiful athletic woman, and Spencer is a muscular, tough man. Bethany is suddenly eaten by a hippopotamus that emerges from the river, but she swiftly reappears after falling out of the sky.
Fleeing from a stampede of hippos, the group encounter Nigel, whose repetitive responses help Spencer identify him as an NPC (non-player character) who tells them that they have come to Jumanji (in the context of the game) in response to a letter Nigel wrote to Spencer’s avatar. The letter explains that Nigel was part of an expedition by explorer John Hardin Van Pelt to claim the legendary gem, the “Jaguar’s Eye”, removal of the gem from the large jaguar statue granting Van Pelt control over the animals of Jumanji. In order to complete the game, the players must return the gem to the jaguar statue and call out “Jumanji.”
Dwayne Johnson stars as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, an archaeologist and explorer who is Spencer’s avatar; Jack Black as Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon, a cartographer, cryptographer, archaeologist and paleontologist who is Bethany’s avatar; Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse, a commando and dance fighter who is Martha’s avatar; and Kevin Hart as Franklin “Moose” Finbar, a short zoologist and weapons specialist who is Fridge’s avatar; Nick Jonas as Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough, the avatar of Alex Vreeke that is a mysterious guide, adventurer, and pilot in the game; and Bobby Cannavale as John Hardin Van Pelt, an explorer seeking to control the powers of the “Jaguar’s Eye.”