Review of 'Jumanji: The Next Level'

jumanji_the_next_level.jpg Initially sceptical at the original remake of Jumanji (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), staring, for goodness sake, The Rock (Dwayne Johnson), I really ended up enjoying it's much more humorous approach to the story than the original starring Robin Williams which was far scarier and much more serious. Now that the sequel is out, we decided to give it a go and we were again not disappointed: “The Next Level” is a lot of fun taking us in a bit more of a different direction and having quite a few more entertaining surprises.

A year after the events of “Welcome to the Jungle” the four friends, Spencer Gilpin (Alex Wolff), Anthony “Fridge” Johnson (Ser'Darius Blain), Martha Kaply (Morgan Turner) and Bethany Walker (Madison Iseman) have graduated from high school gone their separate ways. Spencer is unhappy attending college in New York and separated from Martha. He returns home to find himself sharing a room with his grandfather Eddie (a supremely crotchety Danny DeVito). Ever more upset with the depressing thoughts on growing old from his grandfather Spencer decides to re-enter Jumanji, repairing the badly damaged damaged console. When searching for their friend, Fridge, Martha, Spencer's grandfather and his former friend and business partner Milo (Danny Glover) are sucked into the game as well though Fridge finds himself as Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) while Martha returns as Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). A confused Eddie plays as muscle-man Dr. Smolder Bravestone and Milo is map-reader and linguist Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart). As the two older men struggle to understand what is going on the group are told by the game guide (Rhys Darby) that Jumanji is in danger from an evil barbarian Jurgen the Brutal (Rory McCann) who has stolen the “Falcon Jewel”, a gem that brings prosperity to the land. They must recover the jewel, find Spencer and simply stay alive…Is that an ostrich coming at us over the dunes?

“The Next Level” is a whole lot of fun with just enough twists and turns to keep us entertained though it does often border on being seriously confusing, particularly when the characters start swapping bodies in the game…just who is who? The game challenges are quite a bit more complicated here though equally silly and look great. Here the story is primarily focused around the characters rather than the game which plays a much more back-seat role here. Thankfully the good-natured, ironic humour is back, dripping with irony though there are some bigger story elements at play such as the relationship between Martha and Spencer as well as the strained relationship between Spencer's grandfather and Milo. We once again have more big names on the screen including a wonderful Danny Devito and as the confused, curmudgeon, Milo, Danny Glover who you might remember from the Lethal Weapon movies starring opposite Mel Gibson.

A wonderful Jumanji sequel with yet more fun and excitement. Stay for the credits to get a strong suggestion that there may be another film on the cards…

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2021-11-06

Directed by: Jake Kasdan

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Year: 2019

Length: 123 minutes

Genre: Fantasy

Other reviewed films by Jake Kasdan: