Jumanji: The Next Level
|Jumanji: The Next Level|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jake Kasdan|
by Chris Van Allsburg
|Music by||Henry Jackman|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$754.8 million|
Jumanji: The Next Level is a 2019 American fantasy adventure comedy film directed by Jake Kasdan, and co-written by Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg. It is the fourth installment in the Jumanji franchise, and the second direct sequel to the 1995 film Jumanji. It stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain and Madison Iseman reprising their roles from the previous film, while Awkwafina, Rory McCann, Danny Glover and Danny DeVito also join the cast. The film’s plot takes place three years after Welcome to the Jungle, in which the same group of teenagers, along with an old friend and two unwitting additions, become trapped in Jumanji, where they all find themselves facing new problems and challenges with both old and new avatars, while having to save the land from a new villain in order to escape.
Principal photography took place during 2019, between January 21 to May 11 in locations including Atlanta, New Mexico, and Hawaii, with much of the cast consisting of those from the previous film reprising their original roles for the sequel. Jumanji: The Next Level was theatrically released in the United States on December 13, 2019 by Sony Pictures Releasing under its Columbia Pictures label. The film grossed $754.8 million worldwide against a $125 million budget.
In 2019, three years after their adventure in Jumanji, Spencer Gilpin, Anthony “Fridge” Johnson, Martha Kaply, and Bethany Walker lead different lives, but plan a reunion brunch in Brantford, New Hampshire that year. Spencer, apprehensive of the meeting due to depression, contemplates returning to Jumanji where he had purpose, and spends his first night looking over the broken video-game system he held onto. The following day, his friends visit his home, meeting with Spencer’s grandfather Eddie, who is recovering from hip surgery, and Eddie’s former friend and business partner Milo Walker, who is visiting for an unknown reason. Learning that they have no idea where Spencer is, the group search the house, and find the Jumanji game repaired in the basement. Realising Spencer returned to the game, his friends decide to follow him.
The game malfunctions when starting up, sucking in only Fridge and Martha, along with Eddie and Milo, forcing Bethany to contact fellow Jumanji player Alex Vreeke for help. Inside the game, Martha finds herself as her avatar Ruby Roundhouse, yet Fridge becomes Bethany’s avatar Professor Sheldon Oberon, while Eddie and Milo become avatars Dr. Smolder Bravestone and Franklin Finbar respectively. After instructing Eddie and Milo on the game’s rules, the group encounter non-player character Nigel Billingsley, the game’s guide, who reveals that since its last use, Jumanji is suffering from a massive drought. To leave the game, Nigel reveals that the group must recover the “Falcon’s Heart” – a magical necklace stolen by warlord Jurgen the Brutal – which can end the drought if brought before sunlight and uttering “Jumanji”.
Transported to a desert called the Dunes to track down Jurgen, and after narrowly escaping a flock of pursuing ostriches, the group encounter Spencer operating as skilled thief Ming Fleetfoot, a new avatar, who agrees to help them after blaming himself for their predicament. While attempting to escape the Dunes, the group face new challenges and problems, along with collecting an in-game item called a Jumanji Berry, and discovering a pool of glowing green water that allows them to switch avatars. In the process, Eddie bickers with Milo, revealing their friendship ended when a diner they owned was sold behind Eddie’s back, forcing him into retirement. After the group convince the pair to work together in escaping a troop of mandrills, they soon become reunited with Alex, as his avatar Jefferson McDonough, and Bethany, operating a new avatar called Cyclone – a black horse that can only be understood by Finbar.
Working together, the party leave the Dunes, and find a river with the same glowing green water, allowing Spencer, Bethany, and Fridge to become their original avatars, while Eddie and Milo respectively end up as Ming and Cyclone. Shortly after changing characters, Jurgen captures the group with his mercenaries and brings them to his fortress. Escaping their confinement, Spencer pursues Jurgen to his airship, while the others distract his men. Finding himself unable to best Jurgen, Spencer discovers he is weak to the Jumanji Berry, incapacitating him long enough to send him plummeting to his death in the wintery fog below. Discovering Cyclone has retractable wings, Eddie and Milo work together to rescue Spencer and bring the recovered Falcon’s Heart to the sun, calling out “Jumanji” and ending the drought. With the help of Alex, he found out Cyclone also had strengths and weaknesses, one of those strengths being able to fly.
Returning the necklace to Nigel for safekeeping, the group are surprised when Milo elects to stay behind and protect the land. Learning he was dying in the real world and thus sought to make up for his actions, Eddie reconciles with him before parting ways. Upon returning to the real world, Spencer decides to teach his grandfather about video games, while Eddie uses what he learned in the game to convince the owner of his old diner to hire him on as a manager, with his grandson and his friends turning up to enjoy a meal together.
In a mid-credits scene, the heating mechanic who Spencer’s mother hired finally shows up, only to be drawn to the game, while Spencer and the others are surprised to witness a flock of ostriches rush past the diner.
- Dwayne Johnson as Dr. Xander “Smolder” Bravestone, the avatar used by Eddie and Spencer.
- Johnson also portrays Bravestone’s father in a flashback scene in the film.
- Danny DeVito as Edward “Eddie” Gilpin: Spencer’s grandfather. He is a retired diner owner following the sale of a diner he owned in Brantford, with little understanding of video games.
- Jack Black as Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon, the avatar used by Fridge, Bethany, and Martha.
- Ser’Darius Blain as Anthony “Fridge” Johnson.
- Kevin Hart as Franklin “Mouse” Finbar, the avatar used by Milo and Fridge.
- Danny Glover as Milo Walker: Eddie’s estranged friend and a co-owner in the diner he owned with him, before its sale ended their friendship.
- Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse, the avatar used by Martha and Fridge.
- Morgan Turner as Martha Kaply.
- Nick Jonas as Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough, the avatar used by Alex.
- Colin Hanks as Alex Vreeke.
- Awkwafina as Ming Fleetfoot: a new Jumanji avatar used by Spencer and Eddie, whose character’s background is a thief with skills in burglary, pick-pocketing and lock picking, and who has a weakness to pollen.
- Alex Wolff as Spencer Gilpin.
- Rory McCann as Jurgen the Brutal: A new antagonist of Jumanji and avatar, whose backstory is presented an iron-fisted and arrogant warlord, responsible for murdering Bravestone’s parents years ago.
- Madison Iseman as Bethany Walker.
- Rhys Darby as Nigel Billingsley.
- Bebe Neuwirth as Nora Shepherd
In addition, the film also cast a number of actors for supporting roles, which included Dania Ramirez as Jumanji NPC Flame, Massi Furlan as Jumanji NPC Switchblade, Zachary Tzegaegbe as a Young Smolder Bravestone, Jennifer Patino as Bravestone’s mother, John Ross Bowie as a minion of Jurgen, and Lamorne Morris as a heater repairman. Lucy DeVito as Maiden, while Marin Hinkle returned alongside returning cast members from Welcome to the Jungle to reprise her role as Mrs. Gilpin. Ashley Scott was originally intended to also appear as herself, but her scenes were later dropped from the final edit.
I liked this, but it was exactly as expected, with no surprises or plot twists I didn’t see coming. The Rock did an amazing job imitating Dany Devito. He and Kevin Hart are hilarious together. It was fun, and an all ages night out, so I guess it’s worth the ticket price, but I recommend catching it as a matinee. Or just wait for Prime, or Cable.
3.5 stars – MR