Sony Picture/Frank Masi
For starters, we’re reunited with the four high schoolers who learned to see beyond their social differences and bonded over the most intense day of detention ever. This time, we meet them a few months later, having already graduated to life beyond their small hometown.
Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) is easily sliding to his routine as a college athlete, and Bethany (Madison Iseman) is living her best Instagram life; once-shy Martha (Morgan Turner) finds she’s socially adept in college — popular, even! — while Spencer (Alex Wolff) finds the complete opposite, feeling lost and small at NYU, leading him to quietly end his budding romance with Martha and slowly drop off the cheerful group chat.
As the four friends plan to get together upon their return home, Spencer finds himself feeling lower than ever, sharing his bedroom with his grandpa Eddie, who is played by Danny DeVito, and longing to feel that Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) energy once more to give him the boost he needs before facing his happy, successful, cool friends.
Spencer is in luck (or something like that). Even though the group destroyed the game at the end of Welcome to the Jungle, Jumanji never dies. He fixes the game just enough to get sucked back in — but not enough to have any control over its whims. When the others realize where Spencer is and go in after him, they find the game is a touch different than it was before. It’s still the same classic video game concept, with Rhys Darby’s Nigel Billingsley on hand to guide them in exactly one direction and one direction only, but there’s an advanced mission, with more villains and brand new obstacles, giving The Next Level the kick it needs to stand alongside its predecessor.
“We really went into this sequel knowing that the bar was already raised, the expectations were high, considering how fortunately successful the first movie was,” Johnson, who also served as a producer on the project, told MTV News at a recent junket for the film. “So we wanted to raise the bar and we really just underscored fun, fun, fun, fun.”
The familiar avatars are back and ready to tackle high-stakes challenges in new terrain, with some added