In Jumanji: The Next Level, the gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world’s most dangerous game.
What We Thought:
Like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Jumanji: The Next Level is way better than it has any right being. When rumors of a Jumanji reboot surfaced years back no one liked the idea of it. But then Welcome to the Jungle became an absolute smash hit because it was genuinely fun and entertaining so a sequel was 100% coming our way. As for that sequel, The Next Level does pretty much what the previous film does, but I’m perfectly fine with that. I enjoyed WttJ and I thoroughly enjoyed The Next Level.
This film starts with the high school kids now in college. Spencer is having a hard time in New York, misses his friends and girlfriend. The others seem to be loving life, but Spencer clearly prefers the closeness of high school. On a break from school he returns home. His grandfather (played by Danny DeVito) is now there and Spencer decides life is better as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, his avatar in Jumanji, and tries to rebuild the game to escape to that world. Of course it doesn’t go right and his friends decide they need to go into the game as well to help Spencer.
Despite the plot being similar with these characters going into the game and having to save the day, for this sequel they flip characters around. Spencer doesn’t go into Jumanji as Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) and others aren’t who they were before either. It’s Danny Devito’s character that becomes Bravestone. Danny Glover plays DeVito’s friend/former business partner who was visiting at the time and he gets sucked into the game as Kevin Hart’s “Mouse” Finbar. Fridge becomes Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon (Jack Black) with Martha being the only one getting her original avatar of Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). It’s these changes that allows this movie to be different than the previous film despite a very similar plot. It’s similar, but doesn’t necessarily feel like they just went back to the well for laughs.
With The Rock talking like Danny DeVito and not understanding what’s happening and Kevin Hart talking like Danny Glover and not understanding what’s happening, you get an array of new jokes. Of course with two men of that age you’ll get a lot of misunderstanding of video game terminology and knowledge. They can’t grasp the concept of being in a game or looking the way they do. And with two funny guys like Johnson and Hart and their comedic timing, the jokes are nonstop and laugh out loud funny.
The movie never really feels repetitive despite the fact that it really is just Welcome to the Jungle in terms of plot and story. There is a bad guy, this time it’s Game of Thrones alum Rory McCann. He did something bad in Jumanji and the crew must recover a stone and call out its name in order to fix things. Instead of a jungle it’s the desert and snow mountain top. But with the comedic chemistry of the main cast, the addition of Awkwafina, DeVito and Glover, there are just as many new jokes and big laughs.
This film also had the advantage of seeing what worked from the first movie. People liked Karen Gillan’s dance fighting and overall badassery in WttJ and she’s allowed to do a lot more in this one. She’s a bona fide action star in this second film.
Jumanji: The Next Level should be another hit at the box office. I don’t know if it will as big as the previous film (it did almost a billion worldwide), but it will definitely open #1 in the US and do well overseas as well. The cast is perfect and it’s filled with enough new jokes and adventure that you’ll like it a lot if you liked WttJ. Stay through the credits because there’s a nice teaser for the next adventure!
Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Written by: Jake Kasdan & Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg
Based on the book Jumanji by: Chris Van Allsburg
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, with Danny Glover, and Danny DeVito