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We’re living in an era where practical effects in movies are still important but are often accompanied by a whole lot of CGI. Such is the case in the Jumanji franchise, a series of movies in which Karen Gillan has done some of her own stunt work. Still, while she may look like she's doing things like jumping between moving bridges, there’s a lot still going on with a blue screen, and Karen Gillan recently shared a bit of the movie magic with a behind-the-scenes look at a The Next Level scene she filmed with Awkwafina.
The look at the making of the movie includes Awkwafina’s Ming in a sticky situation and being saved by Ruby Roundhouse in a warehouse completely set up with blue screen to add visual effects later.
The scene in question looks to be that key piece from the now-famous rope bridge scene, which featured the gang running from a pack of mandrills who are trying to end their lives – like nearly everything in the Jumanji game. In the scene, Karen Gillan’s and Awkwafina’s avatar characters ran across a rickety bridge. Ruby Roundhouse then jumped off the bridge and into seemingly empty space, grabbing a stray rope at the last second.
Awafina’s Ming also jumped and was caught by Ruby Roundhouse in the air. Roundhouse eventually rocked back and forth on the rope, depositing Ming safely on land before escaping the mandrills herself. It’s very tense, action-heavy stuff. According to Awkwafina, who responded on the Instagram post, it was a big day for her on Jumanji: The Next Level. She noted:
My first day on set. This was so fun - ily !!
Really though, that’s a helluva way to kick things off. She really must’ve hit the ground running on the movie. We've known for a while a lot of visual effects were used in the movie and this isn't the first time the cast has highlighted the green/blue screen, as Kevin Hart also talked recently about why filming vfx heavy scenes are "the most interesting days."
Previously, the producers on Jumanji: The Next Level Hiram Garcia and Matt Tolmach told CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast that the scene in question was actually envisioned for the first movie but the creative team didn’t have the time or money at the time to make it work. Per Garcia:
One of my favorite scenes that actually has a cool story to it is the bridge scene. And what's cool about that is we'd actually been working on that sequence since the first movie. We had big ambitions for that. We wanted to put it in Welcome to the Jungle. [We] didn't have enough time -- or money -- to pull it off. But that was something that had been in all of our minds for years.
If it had made the first movie, it would certainly have played out very differently, as Awkwafina wasn’t around during the first movie. The Next Level incorporated a couple of new characters and this meant the game added a few avatars so that more people could join in the fun.
It will be interesting to see how much heavy lifting the avatars actually do if Jumanji does get a fourth movie. At the very end of Jumanji: The Next Level, there’s a big scene scene featuring some of the creatures from the game escaping into the real world, which is very similar to what happens in the original 1995 film.