Ever since its release in 1995, Jumanji has been highly regarded as a nostalgic classic, so inevitably, it was only a matter of time before Sony attempted to cash in on that particular nostalgia, delivering a sequel/reboot. So, it was certainly a shock for all of us when that particular sequel/reboot in 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was actually entertaining, taking the whole Jumanji concept to an entirely different level than has been seen before, as well as transitioning from the board game to the video game. It wasn’t a classic by any means, but it still gave us solid action and charming performances to keep us entertained for the whole of the film’s runtime.
It became a smash-hit at the box office, which would mean sequel-time, Jumanji: The Next Level. In comparison, The Next Level is just as fun and enjoyable as Welcome to the Jungle, maintaining all the elements that made the previous film work: solid pacing, witty humour, plenty of high-octane action and charismatic performances, so basically all the same ingredients that’ll delight audiences of all ages. It pokes fun at a lot of the familiar video game tropes, it has insane action sequences, plus some very impressive special effects work, and this is very commendable considering that this film took nearly two years to make.
However, it is the central performances that are the biggest draw here. Just like with the last film, you have these big, larger-than-life actors playing against type, but this time, we have some new characters coming into play, as well as an added twist of having the characters’ in-game avatars switched around due to the Jumanji game being faulty. Kevin Hart’s impression of Danny Glover is pure comedy gold, while Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s impression of cranky Danny DeVito is a tad on the wonky side, but he still nails the comedic beats and has great chemistry with Hart. Jack Black is… well, Jack Black, Karen Gillan gets to take more of a centre stage this time around, while Awkwafina proves to be an excellent addition, completely nailing her impressions, while also nailing some of the emotional beats pretty well.
If you’re someone who really enjoyed Welcome to the Jungle, then chances are, you’re probably gonna be really entertained by this one too. It’s essentially more of the same but with some added tweaks and adjustments here and there. Whether or not that’s gonna float your boat will largely depend on if you want something that’s completely new and challenging or just more of the same stuff you enjoyed before. If you want to immerse yourself in that same world you enjoyed previously, then this will do that for you, as well as provide huge entertainment for the whole family. Not game-changing by any stretch, but fun nonetheless.
Dir: Jake Kasdan
Scr: Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Danny Glover, Danny DeVito
Prd: Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia, Matt Tolmach, William Teitler, Jake Kasdan
DOP: Gyula Pados
Music: Henry Jackman
Run time: 123 mins
Jumanji: The Next Level will be released on DVD, Blu-Ray and Ultra-HD Blu-ray on April 13th.