Writer: Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg (Screenplay) Chris Van Allsburg (Book)
Starring: Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Madison Iseman, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Awkwafina
Plot: In Jumanji: The Next Level, the gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to rescue one of their own, the players will have to brave parts unknown from arid deserts to snowy mountains, to escape the world’s most dangerous game.
Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Popcorn Fun
Story: Jumanji: The Next Level starts a couple of years after the first adventure, Martha, Bethany, Fridge and Spencer have moved onto the next stage of their lives, heading home for the Christmas holiday, Spencer however has started to become distant from the rest, he finds his room being shared with Grampa Ed (DeVito) and decides to try and fix Jumanji.
After Spencer doesn’t arrive for the meet up with the old gang, the friends find themselves sucked into the game, along with Grampa Ed and his old business partner Mile (Glover) as they must complete a new challenge in the world of Jumanji.
Thoughts on Jumanji: The Next Level
Characters – Outside the game Spencer has found himself alone in New York for university, he has a job in a shop which has seen him starting to wonder what is life is actually going to be about, broken up with Martha, he doesn’t know where what to do next, ignore his friends and home just to see his family. He decides to try and rebuild the game, so he could return to being Dr Smolder Bravestone to regain his confidence. Bethany has continued to travel the world, Martha has found popularity in college, despite still being incredibly insecure and Fridge has continued to build his sports career. These three are still close and want to keep Spencer in their circle, only they have continued to be positive in life. Grampa Ed is now living in with Spencer’s mum, in his room after a hip operation, he has fallen out with his old business partner Milo, Milo has come to try and make up with Ed after their lifelong friendship ended suddenly. Inside the game we get the same characters Smolder Bravestone, Franklin Finbar, Dr Shelly Oberon and Ruby Roundhouse, they are the same basic character with a few new additions, much like any video game sequel, with that we get new additions in Ming who has a whole new set of skills and a horse. There are some mix ups to who are each of the characters in the game.
Performances – Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are strangely two of the weaker points in the movie, this is because this time around they have to almost be parodies of well-known actors instead of reacting to traits characters are meant to have, while Hart is more restrained, Johnson does crack his role on this side of the film enough. Jack Black and Karen Gillan have excellent comic chemistry which shines through in the film, while the addition of Awkwafina is great for laughs, coming off stronger in the second half do the film than the first.
Story – The story here follows the friends return into the game of Jumanji joined with a couple of new characters, where they need to travel their way through the game one more time to save Jumanji from a new enemy. While the adventure inside the game side of the story is bigger and the entertaining part of the story, where we try to put a big emphasis on the story is on friendship, we see how people can become more distant, how you should always try to make time, no matter where you are in life and even see the consequences of not always being there for somebody. The story really doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, nor did it need to.
Adventure/Comedy – The adventure side of the film does give us a brand-new adventure within the game, new dangers, new locations, it feels like we are getting a brand-new video game with the same loved characters. The comedy here is a mix, because a lot of the old people jokes get tiresome quickly, but once the statue quo is returned to normal the comedy is back to its best, just takes too long getting there.
Settings – The film uses the new locations within the game, including the desert, mountain range and amazing bridge crossing location.
Special Effects – The effects in the film can be mixed too, it doesn’t help with the pure ambition behind the set pieces which are needed for the CGI moments.
Final Thoughts – This is a fun sequel that once again gets stolen by the supporting cast of Karen Gillan, Jack Black and newcomer Awkwafina that get most of the laughs.
Overall: Fun Sequel.