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JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL (2019) – My rating: 7/10

Jumanji: The Next Level is a fantasy adventure comedy directed by Jake Kasdan, and co-written by Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg. It is the sequel to 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and the second follow-up to 1995’s Jumanji, and is the fourth installment in the Jumanji franchise. The film’s plot takes place three years after Welcome to the Jungle, in which the same group of teenagers, along with an old friend and two unwitting additions, become trapped in Jumanji, where they all find themselves facing new problems and challenges with both old and new avatars, while also having to save the land from a new villain in order to escape. I waited to see this sequel because I didn’t think it would be very good. The film leaned more toward being good than bad.

It’s now 2019, two years after their adventure in Jumanji. Spencer Gilpin (Alex Wolff), Anthony “Fridge” Johnson (Ser’Darius Blain), Martha Kaply (Morgan Turner), and Bethany Walker (Madison Iseman) are leading different lives but plan a reunion brunch in Brantford, New Hampshire.  Due to depression, Spencer is apprehensive about the meeting and contemplates returning to Jumanji where he felt he had a reason for being. He ends up blowing off the brunch and spends his first night trying to fix the broken video-game system he held on to. The following day Spencer’s friends visited his home and met his grandfather Eddie (Danny De Vito), who is recovering from hip surgery. They also met Eddie’s former friend and business partner, Milo Walker (Danny Glover), who was visiting Eddie for some unknown reason. Learning they had no idea where Spencer was, the group searched the house and found the Jumanji game partially repaired in the basement. Realizing Spencer returned to the game, his friends decide to follow.  So the fun began, starting with a faulty device, which complicated things right from the start.

Jumanji: The Next Level is as entertaining as it’s predecessor with a slightly more complex plot.  Personally, I favor Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle a little more but I was still entertained and enjoyed the movie.  Overall, I thought everyone did a fantastic job of portraying their characters, which got a little tricky. However,  in the end, “all’s well that ends well”.  As of February 23, 2020, Jumanji: The Next Level has grossed $784 million worldwide against a $125 million budget, becoming the tenth highest-grossing film of 2019. The film received generally positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 71% based on 221 reviews with an average rating of 6/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “Like many classic games, Jumanji: The Next Level retains core components of what came before while adding enough fresh bits to keep things playable.” Dwayne Johnson revealed in a December 2019 interview that another character in the world of Jumanji is an actual avatar, the villainous Jurgen the Brutal and that it would be explored in a potential sequel, which is currently in development. I recommend Jumanji: The Next Level to all — Check It Out!


THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS (2018) – My rating: 5.5/10

The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a 2018 American family fantasy film directed by Eli Roth, based on the 1973 juvenile fiction novel of the same name by John Bellairs. The film follows a young boy who is sent to live with his uncle in his creaky old house. He soon learns it was previously also inhabited by his uncle’s former friend who happens to be a warlock.  I thought this movie was going to be a really good one, which is not the case.

The House with a Clock in it’s Walls is set in the year 1955. Ten-year-old Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) goes to New Zebedee, Michigan to live with his uncle Jonathan Barnavelt (Jack Black) who lives in a creaky old house which has a mysterious ticking sound that seems to be coming from the walls. Despite being recently orphaned, Lewis just wants to have a normal childhood but discovers his Uncle Jonathan is a mediocre but well-intentioned warlock, while his next-door neighbor and good friend Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett) is a far more powerful good witch. The house was previously owned by Isaac (Kyle MacLachlan)  and Selena Izard (Renée Elise Goldsberry) a powerful couple in the game of witchery and a partner to Uncle Jonathan. Before dying, this sinister couple constructed a diabolical plan that puts the whole world in jeopardy. The ticking has something to do with their plan, so Uncle Jonathan and Ms. Zimmerman spends most of their time investigating where and what the ticking is and what exactly, the plan, left by Issac and his wife, is. In the meanwhile, Lewis is trying his best to fit in and makes a friend, Tarby Corrigan (Sunny Suljic) in school.

I absolutely hated this movie. It was boring, slow and silly, as it was all over the place. I felt the whole production was a waste of Cate Blanchett’s talent. She is definitely over qualified for this role. While I realize The House with a Clock in it’s Walls is a children’s movie, I don’t think any child would fall for the ridiculous plot. I didn’t enjoy the movie nor did I find the cast convincing. This may have been the worse movie Disney put their efforts in. All I can say is The Clock and the House is a ticking time bomb. If you must see The House with a Clock in it’s Walls, try and wait for the DVD.