Picture from Jumanji Level One
Image ©Controlled Chaos Films

Jumanji Level One

The coronavirus pandemic has led to unorthodox movie releases but few are as strange as a Jumanji movie coming straight to YouTube. If you’re wondering why a big budget blockbuster film is coming to a digital platform with minimal publicity, the reason is simple: Jumanji:Level One is not part of the theatrical franchise.This is, in fact, a charity project to raise money for the Anchors Programs for Children organization, which is a pediatric hospice non-profit in Michigan. Say what you will about the film, but you can’t argue with a good cause.

Good cause or not, I need to reinforce that this movie isn’t another entry in the big-budget Jumanji franchise. Dwayne Johnson doesn’t appear in the film. IMDB estimates the budget at about $10,000, compared to about $125 million for Jumanji: The Next Level. Don’t go into this expecting ground-breaking special effects, or even professional actors. This is very much an amateur film.

That being said, you have to admire the determination and hard work it takes for a non-professional crew to put together a film of this length and complexity. In some of the early promotional material, Heather Fairbanks (who plays Mary Dewell in the film) talks about how she got involved with the charity. When her son, Ian, was diagnosed with a dangerous brain tumor, the Anchors Children’s Hospice helped them not only to get treatment and resources, but helped arrange for Ian to attend the premier of Jumanji: The Next Level before his death. This film is dedicated to Ian.

Without having watched the entire movie, (just an excerpt provided to the press), I can’t provide a proper review or details about content – although I have a sneaking suspicion that the low-budget children’s charity film is going to have very little to be concerned about. I can say from the material I’ve seen that it looks like the primary draw for audiences is going to be the charity appeal – but who knows? This might just be your favourite Jumanji film yet.

The film premiers on YouTube on the evening of February 6th.
The Anchors donation page is located at https://anchors4children.org/donation/, and the film’s public Facebook page, Jumanji: Level One has more information and a link to the Youtube premier.

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