Movie News

JUMANJI 2, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND and Ken Ralston

Published at: June 7, 1999, 2:06 a.m. CST by staff

I'm sure the story in the trades concerning Ken Ralston and JUMANJI 2 probably escaped most of you, because... well you weren't that crazy about the first JUMANJI (a film I enjoyed and now face the scorn of all my friends who hated the damn monkeys) so you just kept on scanning past. But... Well Robogeek who reads to the bottom of all articles had a vacuum tube or two bust when he read that Ralston's next project for Columbia after directing JUMANJI would be.... a remake of MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.

Well, I started doing a bit of inquiring about JUMANJI 2 and got a rough (oh so rough) basis for the film. Allegedly the story goes that the President of the United States finds in a strange old European shop an old game of Jumanji. He happens to take it back to America with him, and strikes up a game with... it's my understanding... The Vice-President. The President gets sucked into the game... The VP sees this as his chance to sieze power... puts the game in a closet somewhere and sets about his evil rule. Somehow someone years later breaks out the game... releases the Prez and a hoarde of his animal compadres that save us all from the evils of the corrupt (now President). Sounds a bit like a wacky version of Marc Singer's BEASTMASTER... and usually I'd be all against this project, but...

Call me naive... but I believe this is the first one of the GREAT EFFECTS ARTISTS (Phil Tippet, Ken Ralston, Dennis Muren and Richard Edlund) from the ol Star Wars days... to get a crack at directing a big budget film. I'm hoping (against all common sense) that somehow the story is much better that the rudimentary breakdown I was given. I mean... Ken is an Academy Award winner for his work on RETURN OF THE JEDI, COCOON, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, DEATH BECOMES HER and FORREST GUMP. He is... simply one of the best, and contributed to some of the most amazing scenes in film history. I'm hoping and praying for his magic again....

Especially when it comes to the remake of MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. This is one of the three Ray Harryhausen films I own in 16mm (along with 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH and SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD) and I love it dearly. I love Herbert Lom's character, but it is truly Harryhausen's work that is burned so indelibly into my mind's cornea. Whether it be the Crab, the Bees, the Chicken baby, the volcano, and on and on... Then there is Bernard Herrmann's score (please get Elfman or Ottman) which is just fantastic. For me... the realm of improvement would lay in the scripting... and the realization of some of the Verne elements that Harryhausen was unable, due to budgetary reasons, to take on. And lastly, the casting of great actors. Of all the Harryhausen films... this is one that I don't feel is a perfect film (for me). I adore it. I love his creations... I love the score... But the rest didn't really match up for me. Although, I have seen the film over 20 times if I've seen it once.

Personally, I was hoping Ralston would get the chance to do DINOTOPIA first, but... I guess they're waiting to see what comes from that lawsuit with Lucasfilm that the Dinotopia people are doing over that end parade scene. Hmmmm... oh well....

Seriously though folks, let's keep our eye on JUMANJI 2 and MYSTERIOUS ISLAND... one of our fanboy heroes is at the helm... I hope it turns out for the best...

Readers Talkback

comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • June 7, 1999, 2:32 a.m. CST

    Why?

    by Tinrib

    I actually like Jumanji. I know many hate it. But, a sequel? Yeah, I think there are better projects out there.

  • June 7, 1999, 3:05 a.m. CST

    Those closet-lover's of the film...

    by Damien667

    I'd have to say all of you who enjoyed the first spawn of Jumanji were obviously influenced by some incredibly powerful crack. Despite any article I happened to read on how the digital artists for this film spent SOOOO much time and harddrive energy to the lion (something towards 30 hours for the mane, alone), I'd have to say that the animals were of the most pathetic and unbelievable caliber in the world. Besides, wouldn't it have just been cheaper to rent a zoo and some animal trainers than digitally render all that crap? And another point: the film was just damn depressing. I walked away feeling as though I had to watch my cat get run over by a car repeatedly. It left me feeling empty and unamused. And yes, I hated the monkies. Why make a sequel? And why remake classic films, such as Mysterious Island? What next? Take a shot at 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea because the squid wasn't realistic enough? What happened to originality in this town? Too much fear over more Hensleigh-ian and Emmerich/Devlin-like scripts, I suppose. Oh well, back to Final Draft for me... I need to make revisions on my re-write/adaptation of Dracula as a wealthy software tycoon who lures women to his domain through his on-line company that he's forced everyone to use on their computer operating systems.

  • June 7, 1999, 4:22 a.m. CST

    monkeys

    by Bret-11

    You're a boner, the monkeys were great, the faces they made were hilarious. The movie wasn't great, but the monkeys were the best part of it, my German friend laughed every time they were on. By the way, the CG animals were not supposed to look realistic, they were supposed to look like animals out of a boardgame in a fantasy movie.

  • June 7, 1999, 5:41 a.m. CST

    Lucas and Dinotopia

    by Papi at Work

    Wow. That is the first I heard about a lawsuit with Dinotopia for the ending parade in TPM. I told my wife right after the movie that that parade scene looked just like one of the main prints in the Dinotopia book. (By the way -- why hasn't that been made into a movie yet?) In fact Naboo city looks alot like the Capital city of Dinotopia. But I have found that Lucas draws from all the SF/Fantasy universe in his SW films. For example, in the first Star Wars trilogy he had a sand worm skeleton on Tantooween (sp) a la Dune. The floating city was from one of the Star Trek episodes which had a floating city called Stratos. The SW floating city also had references to the Emerald City of OZ complete with munchkins. Batman's utility belt shows up several times. The Chariot Race is a la Ben Hur. And Courscant is remarkably similar to the cities depicted in a comic I read as a child called "Magnus - Robot Killer" which had mile high city scapes complete with all the cris-crossing sky traffic. (Of course this also draws from the the silent film Metropolis). Some people make think it unoriginal of Lucas, but I see it in a positive light in that the SW family encompasses all the popular SF/Fantasy mythos. More of a "tip of the hat" vs. plagiarism.

  • June 7, 1999, 7:39 a.m. CST

    Dinotopia

    by Eos

    I THOUGHT Naboo looked like Dinotopia! But then I thought, "Nah...couldn't be. No one else has said anything." Saw TPM again and sure enough, there it was! I'm glad to know I'm not losing my mind... :-) - Dawn

  • June 7, 1999, 7:50 a.m. CST

    Mysterious Island

    by Eos

    I saw THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND as a kid, and I loved it. It was part of a movie marathon of some kind, hosted by Bob Denver, (!) on TMC. Denver poked a lot of fun at it, saying that there were similar lessons to be learned from THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND and "Gilligan's Island", to wit: Don't Ever Go Out In A Tiny Ship If There's Even A 'Possible' Chance Of The Worst Storm In History, AND Don't Ever Try Escaping By Balloon If... etc. I thought the movie was great. I've always been a sucker for 'wrecked on a desert island' stories, and this one was no exception. Years later I saw MYSTERIOUS again and thought ( with a smile) how hokey it was. Then I read Jules Verne's novel and was astounded. The movie had departed pretty far from Verne's concept! Please Mr. Ralston, give us THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND again - with Verne's story this time! -Dawn

  • June 7, 1999, 8:04 a.m. CST

    Mysterious Island

    by EricD

    It's pretty funny that the original Mysterious Island is considered a classic, when it bears almost no relation to Verne's original book which contained no oversized creatures or castaways of the opposite sex. Verne was trying to show how a small group (5 Americans, circa 1860s) could recreate industrial civilization from scratch on a deserted island. A pretty cool premise for a book, but obviously not for a major motion picture.

  • June 7, 1999, 9:26 a.m. CST

    NOT SO FAST, HARRY!

    by DAS BOOB

    I too once pined for my favorite effects guys to direct their own twisted visions...the result. Stan Winston-Pumpkinhead-sucked Chris Walas-The Fly 2-sucked Mark Dippe-SPAWN-sucked Mark Bruno-Virus-sucked Brent Leonard-everything-sucked Tom Savini-Night of the Living Dead remake-NO COMMENT The only 2 exceptions would be James(Iron Man)Cameron. And Joe(Chris Columbus wanna-be) Johnston. I look forward to movies being directed by special effects guys just as much as I look forward to Star Trek movies being directed by the cast members. get the picture?

  • June 7, 1999, 9:33 a.m. CST

    Have you read the original book?

    by half pint

    I haven't seen Jumanji, but just from what I heard about it, I decided I wasn't missing anything. Go read the original book by Chris VanAlls. . .(sorry, his name just left my brain entirely!). Anyway, the book is truly spooky! All of his books are written along the same lines. They're cool! It appears that they butchered the book so badly with the original movie, why make a sequel of it and why make one with such a BAD plot??? Can't you come up with something more original?? For crying out loud, go make a movie of another one of his books! And use his style of illustration to ANIMATE it! I'll be quiet now.

  • June 7, 1999, 10:16 a.m. CST

    HARRY was joking, right? xgwzbwryKROENEN xgwzbwry

    by KROENEN

    The Dinotopia reference is dead on. That final parade was an absolute "homagge". But I detected a veiled sarcasm in Harry's reference to a "lawsuit". Irony is hard to read sometimes. Far as I know no one has sued anyone out in the real world. Fans maybe but not the Dinotopia author.

  • June 7, 1999, 11:48 a.m. CST

    * * S I T H P O W E R * *

    by Darth Maui

    Dinotopia? hmmm... Somehow I think they'd turn it into a really corny bad movie. They should look at Babe: Pig in the City, don't you think? Who designed the Gremlins in the first movie? I can't remember for some reason!!!

  • June 7, 1999, 12:27 p.m. CST

    The Bounds of Imagination

    by Herman Snerd

    Ken Ralston deserves better than a sequel to a silly zoo movie as his first film. His directorial debut should be something fantastic and spectacular. It would be great if he would turn his 8mm home movie special effects marvel "The Bounds of Imagination" (made when he was about thirteen) into a feature. For those of you who have seen it you know how great this would be as a feature. For those of you who haven't, hunt it down. Where? I don't know. I saw on a special effects video I borrowed from a library. Even today the effects in this film a wonderous.

  • June 7, 1999, 3:58 p.m. CST

    I'm sure Al Gore wishes that Clinton would vanish just like that

    by paragonian

    The first Jumanji was so bad that a second one could only be an improvement and our president is so evil that finding another politician whose worse would be impossible.

  • June 7, 1999, 7 p.m. CST

    Yes, Harry, you're naive...sorta

    by artbot

    Joe Johnston, the art director for SW Eps 4 & 5 directed Jumanji. I think that qualifies as one of the original SW fx gurus, doesn't it? I would be shocked if any future movies made by any of the FX directors you name turned out to be any good at all. While they may be brilliant at bringing someone else's vision to the screen, which is a tremendous skill in its own right, that in no way qualifies them to direct or write a film. JJ's films (Honey, I shrunk the Kids, October Sky, The Rocketeer, etc.) are usually novel and kind of interseting, but they lack focus, dramatic tension and emotional resonace - things a more highly skilled director would bring to a story. Personally I think the trend toward giving fx people the directors reins simply because of their past fx work or their studio connections is a bad one. Oh, and are you serious about the Dinotopia/LFL lawsuit? Sure looked like a rip-off to me.

  • June 7, 1999, 9:28 p.m. CST

    Hmmm...

    by Corran Fox Horn

    Jumanji was good. And I think Joe Johnston got the emotional resonance and depth you (art-whatever) were complaining about at least with October Sky. Honey I Shrunk the Kids was a novel kids Disney movie, and Rocketeer is a really cool comic-book film/slash serial matinee thingie. But Jumanji 2? I'll be excited when I see something to make me think it merits my excitement. BTW, my post messed up for the Creature of the Black Lagoon thing, but basically I think Carpenter and Somers aren't all that different, only Carpenter's is a little more meaner and teareby serious. Carpetner makes campy movies too, and The Mummy was really good. The original wasn't some great classic, just a pretty good B&W movie. The difference between Sommers and Carpenter is the former has many a lot of really good movies in the 90s, and Carpenter hasn't.

  • June 7, 1999, 11:09 p.m. CST

    Dinos and Monkeys and Books, Oh My!

    by Claimjumper

    I'm glad to see others appreciate Chris Van Allsburg's work. This artist did more with just one of his illustrations in the origianl Jumanji book than all the CGI in the movie combined. As for the Dinotopia dispute. There hasn't been a lawsuit, but, well, I could impress you all with my ability to plagarize reports that already exist, or you could check out TheForce.net and echostation.com for the lowdown. Long story short: Lucasfilm was involved in developing Dintopia as a film well before Episode 1 had seen its final draft. Two words: Green domes.

  • July 30, 2006, 1:57 p.m. CST

    If Bret--11's German friend laughs, it must be good.

    by Wolfpack

Top Talkbacks