Movie Reviews

Published on December 13th, 2019 | by Joseph Saulnier


Jumanji: The Next Level

I said this when I reviewed Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, but Jumanji was one of my favorite movies going up. I was extremely reluctant to see the 2017 film. However, I walked out of the theater happy as can be. The movie wasn’t perfect, but it was charming and entertaining, and I felt it was a good modernization of the Jumanji experience.

Then they announced the sequel, and all that fear and panic (not much, but you know… melodrama) kicked back in. Given the state of some sequels these days, I couldn’t imagine how they would be able to do this, and do this well. But I had hopes considering how good the previous entry in the franchise was. Could it be just as good?
The Jumanji: The Next Level releases 2 years after Welcome to the Jungle, and just as much time has passed for our four heroes: Spencer (Alex Wolff), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Bethany (Madison Iseman), and Martha (Morgan Turner). We see the four friends leading their different lives and getting excited to reunite over the holidays.

Everyone, except for Spencer that is. Spencer missed the feeling he had as Doctor Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) in Jumanji, so he decides to try and fix the game and re-enter to recapture that feeling. The game was smashed to pieces in the last movie, but Spencer retrieved it and it’s been sitting his basement ever since.

The next day, when the four adventurers are supposed to be meeting for brunch, the remaining three get worried when Spencer doesn’t show. So they head over to Spencer’s place to find Spencer’s Grandfather, Eddie (Danny Devito), and an old friend, Milo (Danny Glover), who also don’t know where he is. Soon they discover the broken remnants of the game and that they’ve been fixed (sorta) and eventually they realize that Spencer has gone into the game again.

They decide to head back in, but somethings a little different this time around, as both Eddie and Milo get pulled into the game as well. All our game characters return: Bravestone, Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon (Jack Black), Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart), and Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). But will our young adventurers be controlling the same characters, and what of Eddie and Milo? I can’t say without spoiling so much more.
Now that we have the description out of the way, I will say that I loved this film. Not quite as much as the previous entry, though. I didn’t have high hopes for The Next Level as the trailers and commercials just seemed to be overselling certain aspects of the film, but the film was great.

A good followup story, excellent acting from our four mains, and enough changeup to allow it to not be essentially the same movie as the first. The acting is great. The plot, while a little predictable, was good as well. The music and score really set the tone and pace of the new Jumanji movies, and in such a good way.

One of the only real criticism I had was that Johnson became a little annoying with his characterization for most of the movie in this film, but that could be intended. A good pallet cleanser, though, was Kevin Hart as he literally played the polar opposite and it was a good balance. The other issue I had was that the finale of the third act seemed a little cheated. It was so rushed, relied heavily on the video game trope and never explained why what happened did happen.

Overall, though, this film is a worthy successor to Welcome to the Jungle and you should definitely check it out. Good for the family, just like the first. I personally cannot wait to see what happens in the next film. There is an obvious set up for third in the reboot, or it could be just left as is. Such is the way of Jumanji.

4 out of 5 stars.

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