It’s a widely recognized truth — at least by major studio heads — that every successful movie reboot must have a sequel. That’s the case for 2017 Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a reboot of the original 1995 film starring Robin Williams. The first trailer for Jumanji: the next level dropped this morning, and at first it looks like it may recapture some of its predecessor’s clever charm.
In the original jumanjic, a young boy in 1969 finds a supernatural board game and starts playing with his neighbor Sarah. The game unleashes real jungle dangers in the real world, and the only way to make it disappear is to face your fear and end the game. This, of course, turns out to be complicated: Alan is sucked into the game and a panicked Sarah stops playing, leaving it to two young orphans in 1995 to finish the game he and Sarah started 26 years earlier.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle updated the concept and turned the board game into a video game. In 1996, a disgruntled teenager named Alex gets the board game from his father, who found it on a beach. He doesn’t like old-fashioned board games, so the game turns into a video game cartridge. Alex, like Alan before him, is sucked into the game for 20 years until four high school students discover the game while trapped. It was a clever twist, with the teens taking on avatars — a source of much of the film’s humor — tackling the various levels of the game, hoping to complete it before losing all of their allotted three lives.
Spoiler alert: They manage to master the game and supposedly destroy it. But the trailer for Jumanji: the next level begins with Spencer (Alex Wolff), one of the teens, digging out the video game components in his grandfather Eddie’s (played by Danny DeVito) basement. He fixes it and disappears again, because Spencer apparently hasn’t learned anything from… Welcome to the jungle† When Fridge, Martha and Bethany (Spencer’s co-stars in the 2017 film) come to visit the house, they notice the game is running and quickly realize what has happened. They decide to go back to the game to save their friend, but this time Eddie and his elderly friend, Milo (Danny Glover), are also sucked into the game.
Crazy jokes follow, starting with who gets which avatar. Grandpa Eddie ends up at the Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) avatar who once represented Spencer, while Milo ends with the Franklin “Mouse” Finbar avatar (played by Kevin Hart). It’s a fun twist to watch the two older men get used to the abilities of their avatar bodies. The new trailer doesn’t reveal much plot in terms of the ultimate quest, other than that the team has to somehow “save” the game. But we do get a glimpse of the types of scenarios and challenges they’ll face in this more advanced version. (I especially like the design of the sliding rope ladders over a gaping ravine.)
Do we need another? jumanjic continuation? Maybe not. But Welcome to the jungle had its charms, and the same could be true of the next level, especially with DeVito and Glover added to the cast and a planned holiday release, when there’s a big audience for this kind of fare.
Jumanji: the next level opens in theaters on December 13, 2019.
List of picture by YouTube/Sony Pictures