While not bringing anything new to the table, Jumanji: The Next Level still manages to provide a frenetic and fun romp through a fantasy world with plenty of funny moments, a rekindling romance and, of course, lessons about friendship, courage, and empathy.
The New Wave Of Jumanji
The world was taken a bit by surprise when Columbia announced a sequel to the 1995 movie Jumanji, based on Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s book and starring Robin Williams, in 2017 titled Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – 22 years after the release of the original. What was even more surprising was that it was so good that it earned just short of $1-billion at the box office.
Its success stemmed from the fact that writers Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg, and Jeff Pinkner stuck to the basics of what made the original Jumanji film and book great while finding a new angle to keep the story fresh. For example, in the original movie, the game of Jumanji comes to life in the real world, whereas in Welcome to the Jungle, the characters are sucked into the game.
Sticking to what made the originals great while adding subtle changes to keep things exciting and new is an underrated yet important part of why this franchise has managed to rekindle its success on film despite a 22-year break between releases. During that time, the franchise did not lose any popularity because it has been reproduced as various types of media to keep fans engaged.
For example, Jumanji: The Video Game was released in 2019, allowing players to get into the game and experience it for themselves. There is also a Jumanji board game, although fans of the original 1995 film might be a bit hesitant to give it a try in case all the animals come pouring out of the board and into real life.
Next Level Plot
Pinker and Rosenberg returned for Jumanji: The Next Level, along with director Jake Kasdan, so the story flows seamlessly into the franchise’s third instalment. The characters are once again sucked into the game, rather than it coming to life, but this time the subtle twist is that the four main characters of Welcome to the Jungle are joined by two old-timey codgers in the shape of Eddie (Danny DeVito) and Milo (Danny Glover).
The two senior citizens bring a hilarious dynamic to the group; from their excitement at having fully functioning knees for the first time in decades to the wisdom they impart to the group, it is safe to say that the addition of DeVito and Glover made this film. That isn’t to say the performances of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan – who all return from Welcome to the Jungle – are lacking in any way; it just would’ve been way more challenging for the film to feel new and unique without the two old-timers.
While it is difficult to delve too deeply into the plot in a review without giving too much away, because it does follow a very similar formula to the first two films, rest assured it is just as fun and zany as Welcome to the Jungle while adding enough twists and turns, wacky hi-jinx, and humour to keep you thoroughly entertained throughout.
What’s Next For Jumanji?
While there has been no official news of a fourth instalment to the franchise, the massive box office success seen by the two modern films virtually guarantees there will be at least one more. And, if commercial success isn’t enough to convince you, the ending to Jumanji: The Next Level certainly will be.
Until The Next Level came out, all the Jumanji films had been standalone adventures. However, it appears as if the franchise will now be predominantly based in the world created in Welcome to the Jungle. The ending of The Next Level even suggested the game was changing in a way that would significantly impact players in the future, which is probably the strongest hint possible there will be another film without outright saying so.
Barring any major drama, you can expect all of the primary cast members to return and reprise their roles, along with director Kasdan. You’d imagine it would take something significant for any of them to decide not to stick with such a successful franchise.
While some expected a release in 2021, because Welcome to the Jungle came out in 2017 and The Next Level in 2019, difficulties with travel and filming over the last 12 months mean that even if that had been the case, it is unlikely to still be true. However, we know another sequel is very likely, so news and hopefully even a trailer should be coming at some point in the next few months.