Did the world need another Jumanji? The answer is likely no. But much like its predecessor, Jumanji: The Next Level will surprise audiences with its new ideas and cast members, which includes legendary screen actors Danny DeVito and Danny Glover. Entertainment is once again dished out in large quantities by the charismatic cast, and with the added perk of 4DX, director Jake Kasdan has found a recipe for success.
After returning home for the holidays, Spencer (Alex Wolff) is planning on meeting up with his friends from Welcome to the Jungle. However, after feeling lost and unsure about himself, Spencer decides to reopen the video game Jumanji and enter the world once again. Little does he know, his friends follow him, as well as his Grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito), and Eddie’s long-time friend Milo Walker (Danny Glover). And this time, not everyone returns to their original video game avatars.
Although The Next Level starts a little slow, when the ball is handed to Dwayne Johnson and co. in the video game world, the story starts to soar, and the laughing rarely ends. The main four, Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black, all deliver. Their chemistry with one another oozes through every scene, and the strong focus on Eddie and Milo’s relationship is another smart move. Johnson and Hart are the most entertaining parts of the film, and this time they take up a lot of screen time. Giving us plenty of their hilarious back and forth banter, as well as Johnson’s impressive DeVito imitation and Hart’s hysterical performance as Glover.
There’s no shortage of entertaining performances in this film. However, Hart may be the best part of this new instalment. With Glover’s character becoming Hart’s video game avatar, Hart shows his acting chops while also displaying a range that he has previously been unable to show. His voice, slow-talking demeanour perfectly captures the essence of Glover, and it is much different from Hart’s usually loud, physical style of comedy. In almost every scene, he has lines like “I’m not it” or “All of you is a different colour,” and it’s these lines that stick in your mind and have you laughing uncontrollably.
The Next Level also does a good job of keeping things fresh, adding new skills for the video game characters, and new obstacles for them to overcome. This will give audiences that familiar excitement of playing a brand new game and marvelling at the features that did not exist in the previous game. In addition to this, the script provides character arcs that are enjoyable and fulfilling and uses reincorporation well to tie back to popular acts from Welcome to the Jungle.
Where the film falls short, though, is it tends to have moments where the story can lag and leave you waiting for certain actors to appear. An example of this is the slow opening. We all know where our characters are going to end up, and instead of being fully engaged with where they are now in their lives, you sit there, longing for the eventual return to Jumanji. Despite this being funnier than Welcome to the Jungle, the narrative does not flow as smoothly as the last one.
Also, a key part of the 2017 story was the reminder of how significant the three lives were in the game. In this story, that fact does not carry the same weight. Deaths seem to occur quickly and often, and very rarely do the characters acknowledge the danger of losing lives. Naturally, this affects the climax, which does not give you that same sense of dread and drama.
Nevertheless, there are still a lot of positives in Jake Kasdan’s new Jumanji tale. One of the positives being that The Next Level is in 4DX. The 4DX aspect enhances the enjoyment and impact of this cinematic experience greatly because you feel like you a part of the scenes. The movement of your seats, the air blowing in your face – it all heightens the sense of anticipation for what our characters are about to experience. So 4DX takes Jumanji to the “Next Level.”
Ultimately, Jumanji: The Next Level has more than enough to keep audiences engaged and entertained. Even during the weaker points in this film, Johnson, Hart, Black, and Gillan are always there to reignite the spark and ensure you leave your cinema with a smile on your face.
Dir: Jake Kasdan
Scr: Jake Kasdan, Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Awkwafina.
Prd: Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia, Matt Tolmach, William Teitler, Jake Kasdan
DoP: Gyula Pados
Music: Henry Jackman
Runtime: 123 minutes
Jumanji: The Next Level is in cinemas in 2D and 4DX now