Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) Review

Jumanji: The Next Level Movie Poster (#1 of 24) - IMP Awards

When Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was released, it had the benefit of low expectations. It was a sequel to a beloved film that was tied up very neatly. Add The Rock, an updated video game setting and some very clever body-swap comedy and it delivered a very entertaining adventure movie.

Which is why it is much more of a gamble to try to catch that same success twice. Luckily, The Next Level does just enough different to make this entertaining and not just feeling like it is re-treading and revisiting familiar territory. The first major difference are the characters who get sucked into the video game world. The kids of the original are back, including Morgan Turner’s Martha, Ser’Darius Blain’s Fridge and Madison Iseman’s Bethany, but this time they are joined by Danny Devito and Danny Glover.

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

This is the masterstroke of the movie as when the characters are sucked into the game, Devito and Glover’s characters become Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart’s avatars respectively. To their credit, Johnson and Hart do a fantastic job of imitating their older counterparts, with Johnson portraying the cranky Devito to hilarious effect and Hart managing to keep it low-key as the mild-mannered Glover. Put these in ridiuclous situations and you have an entertaining premise.

The situations they are in work well too. They build from the same point of the first so once the basic rules have been established (three lives, strengths and weaknesses), we get some decent action set-pieces, including an ostrich/sand-buggy chase and very exciting bridge jumping sequence while being chased by angry baboons. Of course, Johnson and returning Karen Gillen handle these aspects ably but add the comedy elements introduced with the new body swaps and you get something slightly different and very funny in places.

Jumanji: The Next Level | Sound & Vision

It is just a shame that these action sequences are not enough and there aren’t many. It feels lacking in the jungle and video game dynamics that the first movie had. There is arguably a more solid story with this movie but means that there is less room for the more fun aspects that made the first film so entertaining.

That first film is not too far away either. As much as the body swap comedy works and adds a refreshing difference, it doesn’t stray too far from what the first movie managed to do. As the film reaches it’s finale, the movie become very generic indeed.

Overall, Jumanji: The Next Level manages to do enough to be considered a successful sequel. It adds some clever new dynamics and Johnson and Hart are on great form. The action sequences work well but there aren’t enough of them and eventually the film reverts to a generic clone of the first.

Rating – 3.5

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

Jumanji The Next Level - how it connects to original movie

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