Jumanji: The Next Level film might be the third film to include Jumanji in the title but it is actually the fourth film in the whole franchise. It’s easy to forget that Zathura: A Space Adventure is part of the same universe. Mostly because both the writer of the original books, Chris Van Allsburg, and director, Jon Favreau, wanted to distance it from the Robin Williams film. Favreau, in particular, didn’t like the film at all and wanted to make sure that people knew it. Yet, the studio was keen to show that both films were connected and Zathura is officially the second film in the Jumanji franchise. I’d never actually seen it, though, as I was 17 when it came out. It definitely wasn’t the kind of film the 17-year-old me would have been comfortable admitting to wanting to watch. So, I decided it was finally time. After all, it got a much better critical reaction than the first Jumanji film even if it didn’t do incredibly well at the box office. The opposite of Robin Williams’ film. Was the space adventure actually better or was this another time when the critics were way off in their assessment?
Nobody really expected Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle to be any good. At least, nobody who remembered the original 1995 film fondly. Of course, it turned out to be a pretty enjoyable experience. Certainly more enjoyable than the first pictures suggested. Thanks to Karen Gillan’s unnecessarily revealing costume, it seemed as though it was suffering from the same sexist approach as other Hollywood films. It turned out there wasn’t quite so much to worry about and the film made just under $1 billion worldwide. With figures like that, it was inevitable that a sequel would be on its way and, two years later, Jumanji: The Next Level was released. I had mixed feelings about the film. Part of me was really excited to see if they could match or, perhaps, better the 2017 film. The other part was worried that it would go the way of most Hollywood sequels. Wanting something fun and carefree to watch on my holiday, I decided it was finally time to find out.