Last year, we published a video essay on Arnold Schwarzenegger that suggested that Arnold is much an author as the directors he works with. While most people still think of movies like Terminator and True Lies as the work of James Cameron, our own Matt Singer argued  —  and rather persuasively, I might add  —  that Arnold’s status as a cinematic auteur should be just as important a factor in how we evaluate his films. No matter who is behind the camera of an Arnold movie, you know the types of characters and narratives you are going to get.

That essay was on my mind this morning as I scrolled through the new Jumanji photos Dwayne Johnson posted on his Instagram account (via ComingSoon). In them, we see Johnson’s character throwing down against a handful of special forces-types, engaging in the kind of action sequences that have made Johnson arguably the biggest movie star working today (and if not that, then certainly the highest paid).

Been shooting #Jumanji for months now and I've been waiting patiently for this night to come... In the original movie, the world of #Jumanji came to us. Now 20yrs later in our continuation of the story, we go to the amazing and deadly world of #Jumanji. For months we've shot everything.. all the comedy, all the jungle action and all the heart. Finally, tonight - Saturday night - all night - I get to knuckle up with my stunt brothers and I get to beat some ass like a drum. My stunt brother here @taitfletcher is going night night. And when he wakes up, I'll be good as gone cause he can rearrange my face with one punch. Let's get it on boys and have some fun. #OnSet #KnuckleUp #BeatingAssesLikeDrums #BeenWaitingForMonths #StuntBrotherLuv #Jumanji #Tonights4YouAlanParrish💫 A photo posted by therock (@therock) on

And, with Arnold in mind, it’s probably fair to suggest that Johnson has reached the same tier of actor-filmmaker as his predecessor. It’s best not to read too much into a handful of set photos  —  which could be part of the regular film, a dream sequence, a hyper-stylized flashback, who knows?  —  but what is pretty obvious is that these photos are practically interchangeable with anything from Johnson’s recent Hollywood work. If you showed me this photo and said it was a deleted scene from Fast 7 or G.I. Joe: Retaliation or, heck, even Central Intelligence, I would believe you, because all the earmarks of a Johnson hero are there. Military training. Muscles. Camo pants. Crack open the Dwayne Johnson starter kit and there’s everything you need! Just add water ... or, you know, 800 pounds of cod a year.

In other words, it’ll be interesting to see if Jumanji is a faithful return to the world that Robin Williams and company created in the first film, or if it’s another (admittedly entertaining) Dwayne Johnson movie with a board game fantasy plot layered on top. Either way, we’ll find out next year on December 22, 2017.

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