With the surprising success of JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (2017), it was evident more would come. The scope of the piece was about what it meant to understand who you are, challenging yourself, and what you’re capabilities are. The overall action-adventure paid homage to its original by continuing the story, upgrading it, introducing new faces to the storyline, and delivered one of the most enjoyable movie experiences ever. Holding box office strength for several weeks, JUMANJI stomped its way back into our hearts. And knowing Hollywood, if the opportunity to revisit the idea and characters would be possible, why not? Too irresistible not to.
Living up to gaming standards, director Jake Kasdan returns by upping the ante a bit. In JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL, the narrative reunites the four teenagers who survived the trials of WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE. They return home to Brantford, NH from their colleges for the holiday break. As college students, they’re trying to navigate their next chapter in their lives. However, things are brought to a rattling stop after Spencer (Alex Wolff) is compelled to go back into the game, having Martha (Morgan Turner), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) and Bethany (Madison Iseman) team up once again and re-enter the world of JUMANJI on a daring rescue mission to bring Spencer home. The rest… Well, I’ll leave that up to your viewing!
Overall, the film isn’t bad. Even though its central concept is repeated, what’s fun about this one is the game is broken and fighting back. Everything our heroes know about the game changes, as they discover that there’s more to it than just a jungle; it’s bigger, a lot more dangerous, and has more terrifying obstacles to overcome. As a whole, this means that anything can happen, so in addition to big action, scrumptious visual effects, and majestic locations, you should also expect the unexpected.
Adding to the core concept is a fresh twist that adds new faces with Awkwafina, Danny DeVito and Danny Glover. Their tie-in and contributions add more of a spark on this adventure, including an emotional subplot between DeVito and Glover. However, unlike most “sequels” (if we even wanna refer to this a sequel), when the game is in-play, the entire avatar cast is back with The Rock as Bravestone, Jack Black as Dr. Shelly, Kevin Hart as Finbar, and Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse! Oh, and of course, Nick Jonas as Seaplane.
I have gripes. I won’t lie. For example, The Rock needs to stay away from doing accents. But that’s a whole other topic. Look, like any movie, it has its ups and downs. It’s gorgeous to watch and provides enough to entertain. It wasn’t a follow-up any of us went looking for. But it’s here. Truth is, I never heard of lightning striking 3x (if you include the 90s original). But I may be wrong. The film will do great, but I don’t think it’ll live up to its predecessor. Mixed feelings aside, THE NEXT LEVEL has its moments, but the novelty is starting to wear off. I appreciate, respect and enjoyed its additional characters, twists among them, and ambitious push towards adventurous chaos, but that surprising hook the first had on me lacks with this one. If anything, less is indeed more. In the end, it’s all about you anyway. Not me. That said, stick through the credits. Yes, there’s more!
Genre: Comedy, Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Run Time: 2:03
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Rory McCann, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Danny Glover, Danny DeVito
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Official Website: https://www.sonypictures.com/movies/jumanjithenextlevel