LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In the verdant rain forests of Hawaii, Jack Black, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan simulated dodging rampaging rhinos and hungry hippos as they filmed the long-anticipated sequel to the Robin Williams 1995 adventure film "Jumanji."
The first trailer for "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," released on Thursday, shows how four high school teenagers are transported into a Jumanji video game as adult avatars and find themselves pursued by jungle creatures and motorcycle assailants, jumping into waterfalls and encountering perilous caves.
The first "Jumanji" told the story of a boy trapped in the magical board game for 26 years. He is released as a grown man (Williams) when two children discover the game.
As they start playing again, stampeding elephants and wild creatures escape from the Jumanji jungle into the real world, causing havoc in a small town.
In the sequel, due out in theaters on Dec. 20, viewers are meant to get a sense of being pulled back into alternative world of the board game jungle.
"This has the original energy and magic of the classic that everyone saw 20 years ago but this time, I like to tell people it's in the game," Black told Reuters Television in interviews from the Hawaii set of the film.
"I'd say that our movie is on a grander scale because it's a whole universe of Jumanji," he added.
To kick the sequel off, four high school teenagers forced to clean out their school's basement while in detention come across an old Jumanji video game. They soon wind up being transported into the game, as the adult video game avatars that they pick.
A nerdy teen becomes the muscle-bound Johnson, a blonde cheerleader transforms into the bespectacled Black, an introverted girl becomes a skimpily-clad Gillan, while a buff football player transforms into the diminutive Hart.
Johnson said the sequel pays homage to Williams, who committed suicide in 2014.
"In terms of Robin and our story, it's done with so much love and respect that I think we're putting ourselves in a really good position, and I think fans will love it," he said.
Reporting by Rollo Ross, writing by Mark Hanrahan, editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Tom Brown