The Jumanji books, TV series and movies are some of the best entertainers out there. Although three decades have passed since the first appearance, the franchise has moved on with time and kept pace with the changing expectations of the young crowd around. The 2017 film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle put a nice twist on the game, turning into an ‘interactive’ video game letting four teenagers loose in this scary yet exciting adventure game.
The film was a good entertainer thanks to its recognition of modern times and twists on the gender changes and gaps between the video game characters and the teenagers who were in these avatars, e.g. a social-media diva turning into a dumpy cartographer, a shy girl turning into a total video-game babe, an asthmatic nerd turning into fearless hunk of a man and a sports star turning into short zoologist. The film had a lot of comic relief and light moments with great computer generated graphics that made it popular on release. Previously, the game was almost sinister, but it became more of a naughty prankster with just that little bit of mean monster hiding beneath.
|Movie||:||Jumanji: The Next Level|
|Produced by||:||Matt Tolmach, William Teitler, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia, Jake Kasdan|
|Screenplay by||:||Jake Kasdan, Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner|
|Based on||:||Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg|
|Music By||:||Henry Jackman|
|Production Companie||:||Columbia Pictures, Matt Tolmach Productions, Hartbeat Productions, Seven Bucks Productions|
|Distributed By||:||Sony Pictures Entertainment|
|Release Date||:||December 13, 2019|
Dwayne Johnson (Dr. Xander “Smolder” Bravestone, an archaeologist and explorer who is Spencer’s avatar), Jack Black (Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon, a cartographer, cryptographer, archaeologist and paleontologist who is Bethany’s avatar), Kevin Hart (Franklin “Mouse” Finbar, a short zoologist and weapons specialist who is Fridge’s avatar), Karen Gillan (Ruby Roundhouse, a commando, martial artist, and dance fighter who is Martha’s avatar), Nick Jonas (Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough, Alex Vreeke’s avatar), Awkwafina (Ming Fleetfoot, A new Jumanji avatar, whose character’s background is a thief with skills in burglary, pick-pocketing and lock picking, and who has a weakness to pollen), Rory McCann (Jurgen the Brutal, A new antagonist of Jumanji, who is an iron-fisted and arrogant warlord, responsible for murdering Bravestone’s parents years ago),
Alex Wolff (Spencer Gilpin), Ser’Darius Blain (Anthony “Fridge” Johnson), Morgan Turner (Martha Kaply), Madison Iseman (Bethany Walker), Colin Hanks (Adult Alex Vreeke), Rhys Darby (Nigel Billingsley), Danny Glover (Milo Walker), Danny DeVito (Edward “Eddie” Gilpin), and others…
So like all successful films, a sequel was shot in the first half of 2019 and the film is already released with the same cast and crew as the 2017 movie, albeit with a few additional touches. We added it to our list of Christmas watches and here are my thoughts on it on behalf of Team Thinkerviews.
When we left the teenagers – Spencer, Martha, Fridge and Bethany at the end of last film, their lives were sorted. But the state of utopia doesn’t last forever. Now they are all in college or travelling the world and while Martha, Bethany and Fridge are almost happy, Spencer finds himself in a dark place where it seems that the best of his life is over and behind him.
Spencer comes home for Christmas, to find the house cold, and his Grandpa Eddie recovering from a hip surgery – hardly in the sunniest of moods. In an attempt to escape the gloom, he goes into the world of Jumanji. When his friends come looking for him the next day, they figure this and decide to go save him. Only, the game malfunctions and sucks in Fridge, Martha, Grandpa Eddie and his friend Milo, while Bethany is stuck in our world.
Once the guys realise who they are though – the laughs begin. Irritable Grandpa Eddie is Bravestone, slow and steady Milo is the zoologist Franklin Finbar and Fridge is Professor Sheldon Oberon. Martha seems to be the only one to have retained her character of Ruby Roundhouse. With Fridge complaining and Eddie and Milo not having a clue what’s happening or what to do in a video game, they don’t have much time before Nigel shows up and gives them their adventure – Kill Jurgen the Brutal, retrieve the jewel called the Falcon’s Heart and save Jumanji. Off they are dropped from a plane and into the desert.
And hang on, where is Spencer?
Before they can give this much thought, they are attacked by a herd of Ostriches. Somehow surviving, they follow the clues and end up in a desert tavern, where they find a thief, Ming Fleetfoot. This is Spencer. While Martha and Fridge obtain Jumanji Berry and Ming and Milo steal a few camels, grandpa Eddie manages to fight off half the town in the role of Bravestone, and they are all killed in a missile attack. The lives are disappearing quickly…
During the journey on camels, we learn about Eddie and Milo’s long-time friendship, their partnership in a diner and how they have not spoken in almost fifteen years. The feud, however, doesn’t appear to be going to end soon.
They approach a canyon and attempt to cross in through moving wooden bridges, while fighting vicious monkeys called mandrills and finally manage it with help from none other than Alex in his previous avatar of Jefferson McDonough and Bethany in form of a horse called Cyclone (lol). Not only that, they find the key to change their avatars…
It is time to face Jurgen the Brutal and free the Falcon’s heart with the best team they can make…
Due to the time gap between the previous two Jumanji films, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, was quite a breath of fresh air with a new concept and a lot of punches. So, of course, the question will be what’s new with the 2019 film? The answer is a few twists and turns and a couple of new characters. The tone is still light and entertaining rather than scary. While the script has few novelties, it is the actors who bring this one home with excellent performances while having great time of it.
Kevin Hart and Jack Black are absolute hoots, while Awkwafina is surprisingly good as both asthmatic teenager and irritable Grandpa Eddie. Morgan Gillan does a good job of complementing the other actors and the Rock does the smoldering required :).
Nick Jonas is in for a short period and it would have been good if his character would have shown more of the depth from his previous experience of being trapped in Jumanji for a long time. Alex Wolff, Ser’Darisus Blain, Morgan Turner, and Madison Iseman do justice to their bits at the start-up and ends as the young adults playing the game.
The special effects are superb – the highlights being the attack of the Ostriches and then the bridge sequence with the vicious monkeys. This game expands on the landscape adding desert and snow-laden mountaintops to the impressive jungle of the previous edition.
In the previous film, each time the players lost a life, the seriousness of this was highlighted. In this film, the first few deaths are almost over in a blink of an eye. But there are a lot of laugh out loud moments, while Eddie and Milo come to grips with what is happening around them. They don’t really stop being themselves all through the film keeping the entertainment going.
The film does have a few sweet moments of happy reunions and sad endings. In the last few scenes, Grandpa Eddie convinces Nora (none other than aunt Nora of the 1995 film), to let him help with her diner. And while they are all in here, a herd of Ostriches is seen passing through the town – remember 1995 film again? So, it is open to conjecture that some sort of continuation is expected 🙂
All in all, the premise is same as 2017 film, but Jumanji: The Next Level has enough twists and turns combined with fabulous performances to make it an absolute entertainer. A definite recommended watch if you love to get lost in the fantasy 🙂
Around 7.5 stars out of 10.
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