Does Jumanji: The Next Level take the franchise to the next level?


Anna Fillmore, Staff Writer

Since Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle came out, featuring Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, and Karen Gillian, fans have been craving another movie. Luckily for them, Jumanji: The Next Level (rated PG-13) has recently been released into theaters. It is showing all over Rochester, and anyone can see if for less than ten dollars. This movie is a must-see if you like action, adventure, and comedy. 

The story begins with all of the same main characters from the original movie: Fridge, Bethany, Spencer, and Martha, who want to meet up, but Spencer is feeling stupid because he used to be Doctor Bravestone, a huge, talented, smart character in the video game they were all trapped in. In the previous movie, Martha and Spencer had fallen in love during the video game but then went their separate ways after getting out and graduating from high school. Spencer gets the idea to go back into the video game, so he can feel the way he once did. When the other three friends meet up and don’t see Spencer, they go to his house to check up on him, only to find Spencer’s grandpa and his grandpa’s ex-best friend. Finally they realize that Spencer returned to the game. They decide to go in after him. Not only do the three friends go in, but Spencer’s grandpa and his friend are also sucked in, and the story begins.   

This movie is a twist on the original Jumanji which came out in 1995. It is not very much like the original, except for the fact that the characters get sucked into a game. In the original, the characters get transported into a board game, but in the two recent Jumanji’s they are instead thrown into a video game. The plot of the story is very similar to the first movie, which made things less entertaining and more predictable for audience members familiar with the previous iterations of the franchise; however, it is still entertaining, with jump scares and funny jokes. It is also helpful that the movie producers added more characters to the story with the grandpa and his friend, but eventually they become a little annoying. Also, the main characters do not transform as expected when thrown into the game, so that has an effect on how funny each scene is.   

The cast of this movie has three very well known actors: Kevin Hart, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jack Black, and Karen Gillian, the lone female, who appears in several Marvel movies. Each actor does a fantastic job portraying their role, but as stated previously, they aren’t quite as funny as they seemed in the first movie due to some of the surprises that the producer decided to spring on the audience regarding their transformations. Each actor was very much like themselves in real life, which was nice that they put their spin on things, but the transformation, although novel and funny, grows tired after a while, with audience members longing for the restoration to the original transformations.

As for the producers of Jumanji: The Next Level, Matt Tolmach and William Teitler, Tolmach has produced many movies, a particularly popular one being Spider-Man, while Teitler produced the very first Jumanji

Overall this movie was very entertaining and fun, but also repetitive if you are familiar with the first movie. The best audience would consist of people who like comedy and adventure movies who have never seen the earlier iterations of Jumanji, because of all of the exciting scenes and funny actors as well as the aforementioned transformations. If one is looking for a heart-throbbing tearjerker or suspense-laden thriller movie, this is not a production for them. Critics have called it “shallow,” which can be agreed with, but there is nothing wrong with shallow when all you are seeking is a little bit of fun.