With the first of the direct Jumanji sequels, I shared a lot of the same opinions as other people when it was originally announced. The original 1995 version with Robin Williams is one of the first films that I can remember having a strong impact on what entertains me, and I felt the filmmakers working on the modern version would never replicate that joy. What only added fuel to the fire was that the announcement was made shortly after Robin Williams death making it a disrespectful announcement. Luckily the film turned out to be more fun than expected and here we are with the sequel, which is just as entertaining as the first, but it is very absurd.
Audiences are going to welcome back the original case warmly for their likeability and chemistry. The duo of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart is still immaculate. The comedy between them rebounds beautifully but what made their chemistry even more impressive is that their bond doesn’t weaken into more serious, character exploration scenes. I’m surprised there’s no Johnson & Hart TV show in the works. Karen Gillan and Jack Black also return with a lot of energy, Jack Black especially. When you think back to his early films like School of Rock or High Fidelity, he already very energetic, now this film has confirmed my theory that as he gets older, he gets more hyperactive roles. I respect the work that these four had to do because they’re acting as video game avatars acting as the teenagers who inhabit them and just to add to the enormity of their task, the film gives us two sequences where the teenagers can switch avatars. It sounds convoluted but it is something you have to see to fully understand the task given to the actors.
It’s not just a returning cast to be excited for, there are new players in this film in the form of Spencer’s grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his former friend and business partner Milo (Danny Glover). I cared more for these new characters rather than the returning teenagers from the first film. I was more interested in how these two would reconcile and it also gave the chance for Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart to think differently about their performances. We also get a new avatar in Ming (Awkwafina) who’s also very funny, she may not offer as much as say Dwayne Johnson but she’s still great to see on the screen.
A big difference in Jumanji: The Next Level is that the story isn’t constricted to the jungle location. We get to explore more and more regions of the video game. Every type of ecology is explored from desert landscapes, tundras and mountain ranges. It must be a blast to have been able to work on this film and to shoot is various wonderful locations and it makes what seemed a restricted franchise much wider in scale, who know what other regions of the video game there is.
It seemed inevitable that there would be a continuation to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, however, I did find the excuse to get these characters back into the game world very weak. Essentially, Spencer feels apprehensive about his life and returns to the game would in the hope of feeling relevant again. Surely there were more creative motivations discussed as the table because instead of feeling like a sequel the filmmakers wanted, it feels like a sequel the filmmakers were forced to make.
Equally forceful or ludicrous depending on your perspective is the entire scenario of the game world. It can seem like you just jump from one puzzle to another instantaneously so there’s not that much of a connection between audience and character, but you can clearly see how much fun the actors are having and that shows itself to the audience so there is a bit of leeway to be given. It not really as clean as Welcome to the Jungle and not as cohesive, you never know if the film wants to commit to good comedy or good action, but each is entertaining in their own way.
Jumani: The Next Level is stupid undeniably, but in a way that’s where the main source of entertainment comes from. A film like this is made for pure entertainment and if you liked Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle you’re going to like this one, and if you didn’t like Welcome to the Jungle but liked these actors then you’ll find entertainment in them. that’s how I would describe this film, a dig for entertainment and it can be found to an extent. I can see this film having a lot of replayability in the far future for that shot of feeling good, but it can only offer that.
Final Result: 5/10 – Average
Have you seen Jumanji: The Next Level? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker