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SYFY WIRE Look of the Week

Look of the Week: Jumanji takes winter style to the Next Level

By Emma Fraser
Jumanji The Next Level

Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!

Clothing choices are limited when playing a computer game avatar, as the characters in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle discovered two years ago. There is only one available outfit per identity in this old game: For Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), this look is on the skimpy side. "Why am I wearing half a shirt and short shorts in the jungle?" Martha (as Ruby) asked upon realizing just how little of her body this costume covered. It was later revealed to be a choice made by the filmmakers to subvert the well-worn and sexist trope featured in computer games like Tomb Raider. Nevertheless, even with good intentions, it is hard to convey this message without leaning into it; Ruby spends the entire film in this midriff-baring getup. At the time, Gillan told Vanity Fair, "I have to say, I think everybody had a point. To look at the picture out of context, it is ridiculous, and that is exactly the point that we’re making with it."

Much like the great "running in heels through the jungle" debate that plagued Jurassic World, the impractical nature of this costume in this environment is hard to ignore (even if that is the point being made). Thankfully, after starting in the jungle and the desert, Jumanji: The Next Level offers a wardrobe expansion pack to match the expanding world of this computer game.

Jumanji: The Next Level

The body-swap adventure fantasy takes on new dangerous scenarios, but out in the real world, the now-college-age teens are grappling with other big changes. The holiday season has brought them home to their snowy town, but they will soon be facing even colder climates. Filmed on location in Canada, the elements add to the intensity of the Calgary mountainside, which the cast journeyed to via snowmobile. "It was very extreme, but it's so worth it when you watch the film," Gillan mentioned to The Hollywood Reporter at the Los Angeles premiere, earlier this week.

Before circumstances take the teens back into the game (along with a couple of new faces), it is all puffer jackets and pea coats. While everyone has been obsessing over the Knives Out knits, the broken heating in Spencer's (Alex Woolf) house leads to a cream cable-knit sweater worn by his mom (played by Marin Hinkle), rivaling Chris Evans in the jumper department. Truly, you can never go wrong with a garment like this in your closet, but it is the heavy-duty winter attire in the game that deserves our attention.

Without giving too much away, the gang re-enter Jumanji in a bid to find the now-missing Spencer. Not only are new characters introduced, but the original cast have different personas to take on, thanks to the body-swap element. Awkwafina ends a bumper 2019 (she received a Golden Globe nomination this week) playing new avatar Ming Fleetfoot, who has some very useful skills for this virtual world. She is also the best-dressed character, wearing a leather-detailed coat and leather pants, which wouldn’t look out of place on the set of Star Wars — it is serving low-key First Order vibes.

Taking over from Laura Jean Shannon, costume designer Louise Mingenbach goes all out with the gang's protective winter attire. Think plush fur-lined hoods, layers of tweed, and all-purpose boots. Plus, Ruby finally gets to wear pants! This outfit nods to her jungle costume by using the same burgundy tone for her jacket but is far more practical in its layered styling. She gets a highly covetable pair of new boots that would look good in a less dangerous scenario.

Meanwhile, Fridge as Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) complains he has swapped "one stupid hat for another stupid hat." He shouldn't moan too much, as the trapper ear-covering design is an ideal choice for the cold-weather climate (it is also a cute look). Nick Jonas is also back, reprising his role as pilot Seaplane McDonough. Not much changes with his classic attire, other than gaining an extra thick layer of shearling.

Jumanji The Next Level

Hilariously, Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) doesn't need sleeves; instead, his shirt is switched for a wool sweater — pushed up to reveal his impressive forearms — and the outwear upgrade consists of a leather fur-lined vest.

For the most prepared to deal with the freezing temperatures, look no further than zoologist Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart), who is essentially wearing the clothing version of a sleeping bag. The puffer onesie is reminiscent of Sam Rockwell's wearable yellow sleepsuit from the Duncan Jones space movie Moon.

It is the point where coziness, practicality, and clothes intersect; thankfully, sleeping bag suits aren't just a conception worthy of science fiction and fantasy. The wool beanie, scarf, and gloves emphasize Mouse's Boy Scout preparedness, which is a flex I can appreciate in subzero temperatures. Finally, she doesn't really need a new outfit, because she's already dressed for the season, but Ming's lace-up jumpsuit is probably better for the dangerous level ahead.

How they get their new threads very much plays into the gaming aspect, which is one of the strengths of this franchise, along with the charm, humor, and heart of this cast. It might be a virtual world in Jumanji: The Next Level, but you don't need to be a computer game avatar to indulge in stylish (faux) fur-lined hoods, multi-purpose boots, cozy hats, and puffer jumpsuits when the sequel lands in theaters this weekend.