Review – Jumanji : The Next Level
We’re back to the computer game world of Jumanji for the sequel to 2017’s smash hit – and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable return
2017’s Jumanji : Welcome to the Jungle was a pleasant surprise in taking affectionately held films (Robin Williams’ 1995 Jumanji) and rebooting in a successful way. It went on to deliver a huge box office return (it grossed over $900 million) so it is little surprise that 2 years later, the director Jake Kasdan (also directed the 2017 film) brings us the sequel.
Kasdan (son of Lawrence Kasdan – a writer and director with some significant film history) sensibly seeks to change only a small amount from the first film with us returning to the 4 friends that successfully navigated the previous story. Now in college, the group return home for the holidays and are drawn back into the magical games console.
Not only are the 4 friends within the game this time, but we also see the inclusion of Milo and Eddie (Danny Glover and Danny DeVito respective) longstanding friends who fell out years earlier.
The game returns them to the world of Jumanji, this time needing to return the mystical ‘Falcon’s Heart’ necklace which has been stolen by the ruthless Jurgen the Brutal.
Returning to the game as the avatars are Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black and my favourite character from the previous film – Rhys Darby is also back. Also in as a new avatar (and frankly a scene stealing performance towards the end of the film) is Awkwafina.
In truth, the plot is entirely predictable, but thats really not the point here. We’re dealing with a franchise now that is about delivering a fun, action adventure story that works for adults and children. And that’s exactly what we’e got here.
The new characters (both in the real world and the computer game) bring enough freshness and humour to the story to keep it all entertaining. The story takes us into new areas which makes the film feel distinctive and its a good solid piece of family cinema.
All in all, I’m not sure it will hit the same levels of the first one financially (its not one that you need to rush to the cinema for), but its an enjoyable action adventure that has enough laughs and heart in it to keep you entertained throughout.