"Jurassic Park" gave us four-story dinosaurs. "Toy Story" made us think twice about throwing out those tiny green soldiers. And now "Jumanji" pushes movie magic to new horizons. Here are just a few of the show-stopping sights:
Elephants, rhinoceroses and zebras stampede through a town square, crushing cars and everything in their path. A snarling lion materializes in an attic and chases Robin Williams. A pack of chattering, red-haired monkeys destroys a kitchen and pirates a police motorcycle with simian glee.
Sure, unleashing an African jungle on a small Vancouver town was "chaos," says "Jumanji" director Joe Johnston. "But it was controlled chaos."
To simulate this clawed and hoofed havoc, Mr. Johnston turned to the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic for the same kind of computer-generated imagery that worked so well in "Jurassic Park." Unlike "Toy Story," created entirely inside a computer, "Jumanji" blends live action with special effects.
"With 'Toy Story,' " Mr. Johnston says, "which is a fantastic film but is essentially animation, you get to make all your decisions beforehand. 'Jumanji' is shot much like any other action film."
That means actors react to things they can't see -- things added in post-production. For instance, to create the home-wrecking antics of the monkeys, models were made and then scanned into a computer to add 3-D muscle detail, movement and expressions. Their actions were stored and then synchronized with the filming of the mechanical effects of flying food and knives.
But computer imagery adds up -- the average shot costs about $150,000 -- and Mr. Johnston had to cut corners. "A lot of it was very low-tech," he admits. "We drilled holes in the sets, and there's a guy back there with a stick moving things around."
For other animals, the crew relied on animatronic puppets.
"We've given them a heightened reality," Mr. Johnston explains. "The lion is bigger and more ferocious, and the rhinos are slightly out of proportion. They almost look like plush toys."