‘Jumanji: The Next Level’, the sequel to the recent reboot of the franchise in ‘Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle’, enters theatres with more bombastic video game action, fish-out of water hijinks and some pretty great laughs. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black all return alongside newcomers, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover and Awkwafina.
Not unlike the original film in the rebooted series, ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ includes relevant messages of teamwork, empathy, courage and trust with both the new and old characters. The characters remain brave and empathetic, like the first one work together in the game to solve their real life conflicts, moving past them and demonstrating the necessity of forgiveness- even in an elderly business partner.
The new entry takes place only a year after the first film. The survivors of the original game, Spencer, Martha, Fridge and Bethany are all now young adults, either maturing in college or learning more about themselves during a gap year. However, when Spencer decides to re-enter the world of Jumanji, his friends follow him back into the game to bring him home. But after malfunctioning, the game accidently takes on Eddie, Spencer’s grandfather and his former best friend Milo, who take on the avatars of Dr. Bravestone and Mouse Finbar respectively. Everything that the central team knew about Jumanji has changed, now returning with more danger and obstacles to face.
Although I definitely enjoyed the predecessor to this film and the 1995 original, I went into this film with a far more pessimistic outlook. I had expected the reusing of the now tried and tested “body-swapping” formula with the characters being placed into new bodies to be the butt of many of the jokes and again central to the new film. But the gimmick is reinvigorated by the presence of Dannys DeVito and Glover who are impersonated by The Rock and Kevin Hart respectively. While The Rock’s impression of DeVito is never really quite spot on, Hart’s version of Danny Glover comes off as absolutely hilarious and contributes to quite a few of the film’s laughs. This time around Karen Gillan’s Ruby Roundhouse is given far more to do and absolutely dominates the screen with her presence. The special effects and score of the film are also fantastic, with the set design and set-pieces being reminiscent of some familiar video games and even classic adventure films.
I found that ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ really just falls short as it just still feels too familiar to its predecessor and doesn’t do enough to stand out from it. I imagine that in 10 years, the two films will sort of blur together and not really have enough of an individual identity as a result of this.
Nonetheless, ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ is a fun and hilarious romp filled with body swapping hijinks and is ultimately a solid follow-up but does not make enough of an effort to make itself stand out from its predecessor.
CRESCENT FINE FOODS.