In Jumanji: The Next Level, the gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to rescue one of their own, the players will have to brave parts unknown from arid deserts to snowy mountains, to escape the world’s most dangerous game.
We are back in the video game of Jumanji where the players must save the land from the evil grasp of a new villain. All the familiar faces are back with a couple additional ones which adds to the hilarity that ensues. Grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito) and Milo (Danny Glover) pour on their own style of humor complete with ageism to the mix as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson aka “Bravestone” takes on DeVito’s persona. Johnson masterfully recreates DeVito’s mannerisms, speech, and facial expressions and Kevin Hart becomes Glover’s character with spot-on perfection. While the premise of the story is the same, it’s these two primary characters that create laugh out loud moments, accentuating that these actors are more than just a comedic step. With mesmerizing special effects and actors who make you believe they are in peril as they jump from a rickety swinging bridge, running from Mandrils (not Baboons), and many other jaw-dropping situations, it’s a romp through the desert, forest, and jungle like we’ve never seen before. The film isn’t without its flaws, however. The story seems to be bogged down in the very beginning, its wheels stuck in the mud and spinning. It takes a good 30 minutes before we land in Jumanji, but given the fun it provides, I can overlook that initial half hour. Stick around for the credits!
While there was never a doubt there would be a sequel to the 2017 hit, this second entry in what is likely to be a long-running franchise already shows the signs of bloat and repetition. Too be sure, the production values and special effects are top-notch and the cast is obviously having a good time, the avatars now possessed with different personalities. It’s passable family entertainment but is far too long.