Jumanji: The Next Level – Film Review

As someone who loved the original 1995 Jumanji, I was not onboard for a remake but then Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle completely won me over. It was pleasantly surprising, entertaining and different and went on to do very well at the box office, so it was no surprise that a sequel was given the go-ahead. I thought the trailer for Jumanji: The Next Level was pants and assumed that it would be some rubbish money-grabbing exercise, but it’s actually very good.

Jumanji: The Next Level begins with the four teenagers – Spencer (Alex Wolff), Bethany (Madison Iseman), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) and Martha (Morgan Turner) – returning home from college for the holiday. After Spencer fails to show up for brunch, they head over to his house and discover that he has repaired the Jumanji video game and has entered it by himself. Knowing he will never escape without their help, the trio re-enters the game – but this time they can’t select their avatars and Spencer’s grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his estranged friend Milo Walker (Danny Glover) end up there too. Now as Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Franklin ‘Moose’ Finbar (Kevin Hart), Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black) and Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), the team must complete the game to escape.

I am so relieved that this film didn’t just try to repeat the first one. The crux of the story is the same but there are different elements which make it feel fresh. The best decision was to recruit DeVito and Glover as new real-world characters and have Johnson and Hart do impersonations of them as their avatars. That was genius. I also liked that the avatars were mixed up, some people were new to the game, they had new strengths and weaknesses and the action had moved from the jungle to the desert and an icy mountain range.

The Next Level is really entertaining and funny. It’s not quite as good as the first one, simply because it lacks that magic which comes with novelty, but it comes close. The star of the show is Hart as Glover. His slow, old-fashioned way of speaking is hilarious. I also loved Black when he returns as Bethany (my favourite character-avatar combo) and Awkwafina – playing a new pickpocket avatar named Ming – is excellent when she becomes DeVito. Johnson wasn’t as effective as DeVito and Black wasn’t as fun as Fridge, but all in all, there was greater scope for comedy with the new combo opportunities.

I didn’t particularly care about the main plot – it’s basically the same as the first – and the CGI animals weren’t very realistic-looking, but I was having so much fun with the character interactions, action set-pieces and comedic moments that I didn’t mind so much. The characters are much more fleshed out on the outside too and it had many great ideas and lines of dialogue. I had no idea how it would be a decent follow-up to Welcome to the Jungle but it easily managed it. This is just such a delightful, enjoyable movie. A real treat!

In cinemas from Wednesday 11th December

Rating: 4/5

Trackbacks

  1. […] The World of Celebrity: “I had no idea how it would be a decent follow-up to Welcome to the Jungle but it easily managed it. This is just such a delightful, enjoyable movie. A real treat!” […]

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