The film Jumanji (1995) which was once popular in the 90s because of its exciting and exciting adventure theme and continued with the second film Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005) was dimmed but thanks to the performance of its sequel film in 2017, Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle seems to make this movie franchise successful again. The decision to revive this franchise seems to be right, supported by a fresh story and capable actors. The film Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle was ranked at the box office in the 5th highest-grossing film of 2017 with a total income of 962.1 million USD. Two years later, this time we were presented with a follow-up film with the title Jumanji: The Next Level. The film is again directed by Jake Kasdan who also acts as a writer assisted by Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg. The actors from the 2017 film Jumanji are also returning, namely Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, and Madison Iseman as well as newcomers Awkwafina, Danny Glover, and Danny DeVito. The film was released by Sony Pictures through the Columbia Pictures label in the US on December 13, 2019 and was released in Indonesian theaters on December 4, 2019.
It is said that the four characters from Brantford High School after the first film are now entering college. Spencer (Alex Wolff) is studying in New York and is in a tug-of-war relationship with Martha (Morgan Turner). Martha herself is finding her confidence and busy studying, Bethany is actively involved in humanism activities and traveling the world helping people, and Anthony “Fridge” Johnson (Ser’Darius Blain) is busy in American Football matches on campus. One time they agreed to have a small reunion in the town of Brantford, New Hampshire while on vacation. Spencer stays at his house and finds his grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) also living there while recovering from hip surgery. Even though Jumanji’s video game was destroyed in the first film, Spencer apparently still keeps the video game hidden from his other friends in the basement of his grandfather’s house. When Martha, Fridge, and Bethany visit Spencer’s house because there is no word from Spencer, they go down to the basement and are surprised to find that the Jumanji Game is on and Spencer is not there. They suspect Spencer is back in the game and decide to join in to help Spencer. Eddie and his friend Milo (Danny Glover) who are visiting try to check because they hear a strange thumping sound in the basement and before they all have time to choose an avatar, they all enter the game. However, because the game was broken causing a lot of unexpected things, this time Bethany was left behind while Eddie and Milo were sucked in along with Fridge and Martha.
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The next excitement is their avatar which is not the same as before, Eddie becomes Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge as Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon (Jack Black), Milo as Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart), and Martha remains as Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). With this chaotic and confusing situation they must all work together to find Spencer and face far different dangers than before in order to win and get out of the Jumanji Game. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge as Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon (Jack Black), Milo as Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart), and Martha remains as Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). With this chaotic and confusing situation they must all work together to find Spencer and face far different dangers than before in order to win and get out of the Jumanji Game. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge as Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon (Jack Black), Milo as Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart), and Martha remains as Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). With this chaotic and confusing situation they must all work together to find Spencer and face far different dangers than before in order to win and get out of the Jumanji Game.
This film managed to dispel my assumption that the sequel to the 2017 film will be ordinary and not as interesting as the previous film because it turns out that there are still new things that can be explored and provide a fresh story thanks to a clever and creative story script. Jake and the storytelling team managed to give a unique spin on Jumanji’s story by keeping the focus on the adventure story and not on the action and visual effects. Instead of focusing on the same characters and repeating the adventure as in the first film, the audience is faced with the exchange of each main character between the four avatars in the game and completely new location settings that were not in the previous film.
The characters this time have to adventure in the desert, icebergs, and Winter Fortress (a big bull for their final act in the film). Carrying the heavy burden of the 2017 film makes Jake really increase the scope and scale of this film to the next level so that it keeps the audience curious about the story of this film. The duration of 123 minutes does not feel boring, the story narrative provides a balanced portion for drama, action, and comedy in the film. This time the audience is brought into a different and more colorful conflict, namely the conflict between Eddie and Milo and the estrangement of Martha and Spencer’s relationship. The audience is brought along along the story of the characters completing their main mission by not forgetting the resolution of personal conflicts which are subplots that make the film’s story more dynamic and does not interfere with the main plot at all. The drawback may be in Eddie and Milo’s past relationship which is not explored too much and the details of Martha and Spencer’s relationship that caused their relationship to fall apart. Don’t miss the scene after the after credits which will surely provoke our curiosity about the next direction of this film.
In this second film, the return of all the cast who are big names is an advantage because the chemistry and cohesiveness that has been established makes it easy for them to continue their roles like the previous film. Dwayne Johnson’s ability to imitate Danny DeVito’s persona and Kevin Hart’s imitating Danny Glover’s persona creates its own humor because it really shows their acting skills as well as Jack Black, who plays Fridge, who this time is also presented with humor that still hits the issue of physical limitations. This time, even though Karen Gillan still plays the role of Martha’s avatar, she is able to show a person who can lead to replace Spencer’s position in the previous film. Awkwafina who is a new character appears as a surprise in the film and brings every scene hilariously. All of these actors were able to keep pace with each other and they were all given a place to have their own moments. Meanwhile, in terms of antagonist characters, Rory McCann (The Hound – Game of Thrones) appears solid as Jurgen The Brutal’s new antagonist who tends to be barbaric. All the action scenes in this film are also enhanced from the scale of danger to the challenges. The action scenes in this second film look more varied and the CGI visuals are also neatly worked out. Even though the action scenes tend to be extreme, Wade Eastwood (Mission Impossible: Fallout & Rogue Nation, MIB) as Director/ Stunt Coordinator is able to present these scenes while still being fun and friendly to watch by families. Mark Breakspear as VFX Supervisor and JD
Jake Kasdan seems to be the right director for the Jumanji franchise because he is able to provide a follow-up film that the whole family can enjoy without ignoring the values and messages he wants to convey. The audience, especially the younger generation, can take valuable messages and lessons from this second Jumanji film. Armed with experience in previous films, he knows very well how to take Jumanji to the next level as reflected in the title of this film. The issue of friendship and relationship reconciliation is presented by Jake through the stories of Eddie-Milo and Martha-Spencer throughout the film, which teaches the audience about the importance of openness and the generosity of forgiveness. The issue of self-confidence and learning to accept one’s existence is also explored again as in the 2017 film, which we can see when their characters return to the Jumanji game but in different conditions. The audience is also reminded to learn how to deal with the changes in life and not stop to develop themselves in the process of becoming the best version of themselves. As a film at the end of 2019 Jumanji: The Next Level is one film that you should not miss.