A Twenty Five-Year Franchise: “Jumanji: The Next Level”

Latest Movie Review, A Look Through The Evolution Of The Original Story

Twenty+two+years+after+the+release+of+the+first+movie%2C+the+franchise+was+brought+back+but+this+time+with+a+new+tone.+%E2%80%9CJumanji%3A+Welcome+to+the+Jungle%E2%80%9D+was+released+in+2017+as+a+continuation+of+the+original+movie.+Last+December%2C+the+latest+installment+to+the+franchise+was+released+with+the+same+concept+as+the+2017+movie.
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A Twenty Five-Year Franchise: “Jumanji: The Next Level”

Twenty two years after the release of the first movie, the franchise was brought back but this time with a new tone. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” was released in 2017 as a continuation of the original movie. Last December, the latest installment to the franchise was released with the same concept as the 2017 movie.

Twenty two years after the release of the first movie, the franchise was brought back but this time with a new tone. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” was released in 2017 as a continuation of the original movie. Last December, the latest installment to the franchise was released with the same concept as the 2017 movie.

Graphic by Kaley Johnson

Twenty two years after the release of the first movie, the franchise was brought back but this time with a new tone. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” was released in 2017 as a continuation of the original movie. Last December, the latest installment to the franchise was released with the same concept as the 2017 movie.

Graphic by Kaley Johnson

Graphic by Kaley Johnson

Twenty two years after the release of the first movie, the franchise was brought back but this time with a new tone. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” was released in 2017 as a continuation of the original movie. Last December, the latest installment to the franchise was released with the same concept as the 2017 movie.

Kaley Johnson, Reporter

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A story we all know and love, the original picture book, “Jumanji,” was released in 1981 by writer and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg. Eleven years later followed the very first “Jumanji” movie which, while based on the original story and its characters, also included added characters and plot points making the original story more adaptable to the big screen. In 2002, Van Allsburg released a sequel book to “Jumanji,” titled “Zathura” which was made into a movie in 2005. While the game that the two boys in “Zathura” play are similar to that of Jumanji the story itself relates very little to the original story in terms of the movies.

Twelve years after the release of the movie version of “Zathura” the franchise was brought back but this time with a new tone. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” was released in 2017 as a continuation of the original movie. With an all-star cast and goal of being a lot more comedic than the previous adaptations, it included many references and callbacks to the original movie suggesting that it is a continuation rather than a reboot, despite it’s reimagined form.

Last December, the latest installment to the franchise was released with the same concept as the 2017 movie. “Jumanji: The Next Level” brought back the amazing cast of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan and Nick Jonas with the addition of well-known actors Danny Devito, Danny Glover and Awkwafina. 

While the first “Jumanji” movie and “Zathura” followed the book in that things from the game came into real life, the latest movies play with the opposite concept as the teenagers playing are transported into the game as its avatars. In the second movie, however, the game is busted and we get to see different characters in different avatars. Much like the first, the chemistry between Johnson and Hart is unmistakable and they continue to be the dynamic duo of the movies despite playing different characters than before. We also get to see more of the dynamic between Black and Gillan that we got a glimpse of last time and they continue to surprise as well. 

My only complaint with the latest movie is that the general plot is fairly similar to that of “Welcome to the Jungle.” Despite this, they are able to make up for it with more of a focus on relationships within the group. A large concern I had going into the second movie was that I was a huge fan of the first. I especially liked its sense of humor which leans more towards the ridiculous and awkward, so when a sequel was announced I was afraid they wouldn’t deliver in the same way, but I was pleasantly surprised that most of its attempts were successful. 

A comedic part I struggled with was the concept of the character Johnson was playing at that point using the avatar’s strength to beat up anyone in sight. While it was somewhat funny to watch The Rock, of all people, be surprised by his own strength, it felt unnecessary, out of character and quickly became overused.

Almost every actor impressed this time especially due to the fact that for half the movie everyone had to play a different character than who they did in the first movie excluding Gillan and Jonas. Despite this, though it was Awkwafina that impressed me the most with her delivery of comedic lines and top-notch impression of Danny Devito 

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With an end credit scene suggesting a third (fifth?) movie that goes back to the roots of the game coming to life, I would definitely recommend “Jumanji: The Next Level,” a movie for the whole family to enjoy. Having said that, this franchise has a lot more layers than at first glance and I’d find it interesting to go all the way back and rewatch from the beginning whether it be to try to catch all the references to each other, or to experience how many different directions the story has gone and yet still manages to deliver.