Coming in December, the third film in the Jumanji franchise (Fourth if you count Zathura) comes to theaters, Jumanji: The Next Level. Returning to the film are, as the teens, Alex Wolf as Spencer Gilpin, the high school nerd, Ser’Darius Blain as Anthony “Fridge” Johnson, the jock, Madison Iseman as Bethany Walker, the popular girl in school, and Morgan Turner as Martha Kaply the shy intellect. Returning as the avatars of the game world are Dwayne Johnson as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, the strong confident avatar with no weaknesses, Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse, the tough martial arts expert, Kevin Hart as Franklin “Mouse” Finbar, a diminutive zoologist with a weakness to cake, and Jack Black as Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon, a cartographer, cryptographer, archaeologist, and paleontologist. Rhys Darby also returns as Niles Billingsley, the games NPC guide and Nick Jonas returns as Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough. Colin Hanks also returns as Alex Vreeke. New to the cast is Danny DeVito as Eddie Gilpin, Spencer’s grandfather, Danny Glover as Eddie’s friend, Milo Walker. Awkwafina and Dania Ramirez are also reported to be in the film, but their roles have not been disclosed.
Jake Kasden returns to direct this sequel, along with Henry Jackman returning to compose the score.
Unknown to his friends, Spencer kept the pieces of the Jumanji video game and one day repaired the system in the basement of his grandfather’s house. When Spencer’s friends Bethany, Fridge, and Martha arrive, they find Spencer missing and the game running and decide to re-enter Jumanji to save him. Spencer’s grandfather Eddie and his friend Milo Walker hear the commotion and inadvertently get sucked into the game too before any of Spencer’s friends can select their avatars. With a new quest offered to them by Nigel Billingsley, the teenaged friends must help Eddie and Milo get used to their in-game avatars, get them to help find Spencer and Bethany, and escape Jumanji once again and for all.
This new adventure has a few fun twists and turns that could keep it fresh and not feel like a rehash. In the game, Martha’s avatar is once again Ruby, but Anthony finds his avatar is Sheldon. Grandpa Spencer and Milo wind up with Bravestone and Mouse, respectively.
The world of Jumanji is expanded in this film, taking the characters out of the jungle and into the desert and snowy landscapes. And if what Billingsley said is true, even more action and danger. Plus, Hart and Johnson bickering like old men, Jack Black hamming it up as two different characters, and Bethany’s a horse for a bit.
For a tentpole film from a major studio, Jumanji: The Next Level had the fastest turnaround from filming to theatrical release. Production began in February of this year, shooting in Atlanta, New Mexico, Calgary, Fortress Mountain Resort in Alberta, and Hawaii. Production wrapped in May, and is being released seven months later. Also much like Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, which was released a week before Star Wars: The Last Jedi, this will be released a week before Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker.
Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle grossed $404.6 million during it’s theatrical run. Will lightning strike twice? We’ll be finding out when the film hits theaters on December 13.
Gary DaBaum, SCIFI.radio DJ, writer, and all around nice guy, can be heard on SCIFI.radio. He’s also on Twitter: @GaryDaBaum.