When Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle was released in 2017, no one had particularly high expectations for the reboot despite its impressive ensemble cast. It ended up massively exceeding expectations and proved to be a hugely enjoyable action-adventure which took the original movie’s concept and injected it with new life for a next-gen audience. Now, just two years later, Jumanji: The Next Level is here and set to go head to head with the final chapter of “The Skywalker Saga,” Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It’s a ballsy move but one which could pay off considering the fact that this is a movie you’ll have more fun with than anything else released this year.
After some scene stealing work from the legendary Danny DeVito, we find ourselves back in the video game world of “Jumanji” and how things play out from there is, unfortunately, often a little too familiar. However, while the avatars, premise, and story remain mostly the same, some jaw-dropping set pieces (particularly those involving ostriches and mandrills) guarantee that you’ll remain on the edge of your seat. You’ll also be laughing far too often to worry about those minor issues too much as the humour here is on point.
What really keeps things fresh, though, is the fact Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black all tackle their roles very differently due to their avatars being inhabited by other real-world characters. Johnson might just be a better Danny DeVito than, well, Danny DeVito, and his chemistry with Hart continues to be a highlight as their back and forth as two grisly old men coming to terms with being stuck inside both a video game and their impressive new bodies is endlessly entertaining. Karen Gillan doesn’t get quite much to do as the first movie’s standout character Ruby Roundhouse but her one big action scene more than makes up for that. It’s new addition Awkwafina who steals the show in many respects, though, and given how impressive her work in The Next Level is, we’re now more excited than ever to see her in Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings. Unfortunately, Game of Thrones‘ Rory McCann is mostly wasted but he certainly serves a purpose (it just would have been nice to see some of the humour he brought to The Hound used here).
Visually, Jumanji: The Next Level looks awesome and it’s impossible not to have a good time watching this sequel. As we mentioned, the action scenes do not disappoint and there’s one fight scene, in particular, with Johnson’s Bravestone that might just be remembered as one of the best he’s ever starred in. The sequel may stick to what worked last time around but there’s enough inventiveness so that you’ll be excited to see where things go next for the franchise and it definitely appears as if a shake-up of sorts is coming in that respect. Director Jake Kasdan’s move into blockbuster filmmaking has proved to be a resounding success and while his father and brother are perhaps best known for their work in a Galaxy Far, Far Away, he’s forging an impressive legacy of his own with this franchise.
Ultimately, if you enjoyed Welcome to the Jungle, you’ll love The Next Level and those of you who were indifferent to that first instalment might still find yourselves won over by the top-notch action and hilarious one-liners. In a month where all eyes are on Star Wars, this is a must-see alternative that has successfully cemented the Jumanji franchise as a series with plenty of replayability.
The Next Level makes good use of the first movie’s formula and injects it with heaps of humour, action, and amazing performances which all ensure that Jumanji is a game you’ll want to play again and again.