Image: Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson in Jumanji: The Next Level © Photography by Frank Masi [Source: IMDB]
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.
Director: Jake Kasdan. Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Rory McCann, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover [12A]
When Jumanji released previously under a semi-reboot kind of vibe. Audiences and fans of the beloved original Jumanji that starred Robin Williams who as per usual brought a level of character that made it hard to match. Somehow, however, the new Jumanji, its new cast of characters and reinvented premise brought a fun, action-packed and storm of laughs to our screens.
Here they return again for a sequel, an often dreaded moment with most films especially following what felt like a one time fluke – not delivering something that is bigger and better. Here Jumanji: The Next Level does, in fact, bring us to the next level in the franchise, though it does fall a little short of being truly triumphant over the last.
This time around each of our four main cast members get to get their teeth down on some fresh characters and interesting scenarios. This is one of the best addition this time around and really gives this sequel a breath of fresh air so it didn’t feel like a complete rehash of the last adventure these characters went on. It’s a riot to see these comedians play off such strange scenarios and you can see an effort was made to select the riot avatar for each person to really deliver on the comedy. Some note must be given to Dwayne Johnson who performs a wonderful Danny DeVito and Kevin Hart who is a near-perfect Danny Glover.
The action does it best to be bigger this time around but it does feel lacklustre in segments that run a little too long and feel forced for the sake of keeping an audience engaged. But its quite the opposite and its a shame director Jake Kasdan couldn’t capitalise on it – but the emotional journey through this picture while admittedly gooey and overplayed, completely swept me off my feet. I felt completely engrossed and connected to the narrative and the action scenes actually felt like somewhat of a detraction from the story and comedy that was firing on all cylinders.
In the end, again, Jumanji: The Next Level has definitely scored high scores and delivers on the sequel. Of course, the action is somewhat lacklustre and detracting. It also lacks some of the more nuanced comments on video games as well and lacks a compelling villain once again. While the narrative is completely engrossing it is somewhat overplayed. But it matters little for such a fun and easy-going adventure with a cast of characters that have not only made us care for the avatars of them but the characters behind them and as it suggests the next Jumanji is hitting the note perfectly by giving the limelight to the people behind the avatars.