Currently in theaters is Jumanji: The Next Level, the fourth film in the Jumanji franchise (because yes, Zathura does count), and second since the reboot/return/whatever they’re calling it. Written and directed by Jake Kasdan (who directed the last installment), the film sports an impressive cast including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan, as well as Danny DeVito and Danny Glover.
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Jumanji: The Next Level brings a lot of laughs yet there are criticisms that must be discussed. On a positive note, there are quite a few reasons to love this movie. The most obvious quality is the noticeably riotous cast who is filled with controversy, yet, they seem to get along beautifully. While watching Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, both fans and critics were blessed with experiencing Jack Black portray the preppy high-school selfie queen of this generation while enjoying Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart constantly butting heads over who’s the bigger man. Of course, we can’t forget the wonderful Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse, yet also the insecure young lady who needs to be trained how to flirt with the opposite sex. All of this goes on while these characters fight for survival through the mean jungle of Jumanji!
The good news about Jumanji: The Next Level is that if you laughed at the first movie, you’ll most definitely laugh at this one as well. However, this is also the downfall about this second continuation of the Jumanji movies. The jokes for the most part are recycled and nothing we haven’t seen before. However, I still enjoyed the movie despite these flaws, but I definitely think there could have been more spice added.
My personal favorite quality of Jumanji 2 is the addition of Danny DeVito as Spencer’s cranky old grandfather and Danny Glover as his calm and collected ex-business partner. It’s also hard to deny the fact that Kevin Hart does a phenomenal Danny Glover impression. Watching Hart and The Rock bicker back and forth again as the two confused older men who had a falling out was also brilliant (of course The Rock does know a thing or two about feuding with Harts, doesn’t he?). As I left the theater, I would continue to laugh as I pictured Kevin Hart putting on that old man accent and The Rock constantly asking, “Are we dead? Are we in Florida?” The joke goes on for some time but it’s a funny one to say the least.
Besides the lack of fresh new jokes, the story line could have also used more adjustment and surprises throughout. If I’m able to sit in the theater and predict most of the scenes that are going to take place, I think that’s an L for the screen writers. Surprise me, man! Despite these flaws, I enjoyed the film. The characters in the game of Jumanji are all very different yet somehow fit perfectly together. We as film goers learn that the sub plot love quarrel between the two nerds (Spencer and Martha) continues and that Spencer simply craves to “feel alive” again by experiencing Jumanji as Dr. Bravestone; thus, beginning the plot of the movie. If you take away the silly dialogue throughout, the occasional action scene of a wild goose chase or The Rock punching a hundred people, the movie wouldn’t exist. Of course, we also can’t forget the whole horse addition to the team. No comment on that.
The Bottom Line:
Basically, Jumanji: The Next Level isn’t the Guns N Roses beloved ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ anthem, but more like a cheap, yet strong replica by a cover band at your favorite local bar; it gets the job done, somewhat. Overall, I enjoyed the movie. I didn’t expect some mind-blowing thriller that’ll make me think deep and get a sensational feeling of craving more. I expected a fun time at the theater where I can tune out everything in life to laugh for about two hours. With that being said, I’m looking forward to the next one now that the animals of Jumanji have somehow entered the real world despite the game being completely destroyed multiple times. – 6.5/10