In 2017 JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE became a surprise runaway hit. The film was both a sequel to and reboot of a beloved (if somewhat forgotten) '90s hit starring the late, great Robin Williams. This revamp flipped the basic concept of an enchanted board game that unleashes all sorts of predatory jungle dangers onto the world. Instead of a board game, it was a videogame, and instead of bringing things into this world, it sucked you into that world.
In addition to the entertaining concept, WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE had an amazing cast, and the formula proved to be hugely successful at the box office. Naturally, then, a sequel has followed the movie into theatres. But how do you make a sequel to such a charming surprise? If you’re part of the team behind JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL, you make the twists even bigger than before, by remixing the cast, characters, and concepts.
It’s rare to get the entire cast to come back for a sequel, but clearly everyone had a really good time on the last movie because the gang is all here. Thanks in large part to the cast, the previous movie was equal parts THE BREAKFAST CLUB and ROMANCING THE STONE, and it looks like this sequel might recapture that magic.
Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan all return as their in-game characters, with names like Dr. Smolder Bravestone and Ruby Roundhouse. Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Morgan Turner, and Madison Iseman are also back as the teenage counterparts to those game characters. Nick Jonas and Rhys Darby also return as their respective in-game characters.
OK, so we've got the same players… but the game has changed. Spencer (Wolff) kept the destroyed pieces of the Jumanji video game and has repaired the original system in the basement of his grandfather’s home. When Spencer disappears, his teenage friends Fridge (Blain), Martha (Turner) and Bethany (Iseman) return to the game to find Spencer, along with Spencer’s grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) and Eddie’s friend Milo (Danny Glover). Together, they team up to track down Spencer and end Jumanji for good. (Unless that is, they come up with an even better idea for the third movie).
[Image credit: Sony Pictures]
As is teased in the movie’s theatrical trailer (above) not everything is the same in this new iteration of JUMANJI. For one, the previous player/character combinations have shifted.
Grandpa Eddie is now Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Johnson’s character). That’s right; Cinema’s reigning tough guy, The Rock, performs as if he’s inhabited by Danny DeVito. But that’s not all. Milo’s avatar is Franklin "Mouse" Finbar (Hart). So for the entire runtime of JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL Kevin Hart will be impersonating Danny Glover. It just doesn’t get much better than that.
There are additional twists, however. Fridge (Blain) has a new avatar: Professor Sheldon "Shelly" Oberon (Black). This was previously the avatar for popular girl Bethany, and the disconnect between player and character gave the first film a lot of its laughs. We’re excited to see Black’s performance go from prissy teenage girl to embittered jock. All of this sounds really exciting and fun and is a surefire way of mixing things up.
There are even more elements of JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL that are yet to be revealed to the public. Colin Hanks is listed as a returning cast member, although he played a gamer who had been stuck in the videogame for many years and finally returned home. So how does he factor in? Awkwafina is amongst the cast, and while she is glimpsed in the trailer, her role has yet to be revealed. Does she play the big bad in this iteration of the game? And where is Spencer?
Finally, Jack Black recently mentioned Jon Favreau's space-set film ZATHURA, which was a sort-of sequel to the original JUMANJI. Should we be prepared for connections to that movie in JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL? We’ll find out soon enough.
All images courtesy of Sony Pictures.