Like most things in Hollywood, a sequel was greenlit, so the pressure was on for Jumanji: The Next Level to continue the first movie’s winning formula.
When it was revealed that Jumanji would be getting a modern-day remake, the news was met with some skepticism as people weren’t sure how the 1995 classic could be remade for modern audiences. It was a surprise then that Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle exceeded expectations and became the hit that it was. Changing the original’s board game premise to a video game setting and adding a memorable cast managed to connect with audiences around the world which translated to over $900M gross at the global box office.
Jumanji: The Next Level manages to be just as fun as the first one. The movie is no groundbreaking opus, but it does offer a funny and exciting experience for audiences.
The sequel sees Spencer, Martha, Bethany, and Fridge return to the world of Jumanji, but things have changed. When Spencer enters the game by himself, the other three must go back and save him, but they discover that things are not as they seem. Now, they must go on a brand-new adventure to save Jumanji from a terrible evil.
While the film’s unique premise of the Jumanji game being broken offers new possible ways to tell the story, the plot ends up becoming a by-the-numbers journey.
It’s your standard action movie fare of the heroes going on a journey to stop the bad guy. The film does have sub-plots on the characters rebuilding their relationships with one another. The movie presents this in two ways; with Spencer trying to reconnect with Martha, Bethany, and Fridge, and Spencer’s grandfather, Eddie, and his best friend, Milo, trying to make amends for something that happened in their past. The problem though is that the way in which the film tackles these problems are done halfheartedly. There’s not much nuance in the way Jumanji: The Next Level treats its characters’ emotional arcs as it is done through scenes of them talking in-between action scenes, so it comes off as generic.
The star power and chemistry of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillian was one of the more memorable aspects of the first movie and this can be seen in the sequel.
Their chemistry together is still present, and they work well off one another. One of the new ideas the film brings in is the characters switching avatars, so there’s an interesting dynamics that occur, like Fridge entering the body of Jack Black, Eddie entering the body of Dwayne Johnson, and Milo entering the body of Kevin Hart. You get to see these actors play different roles you don’t normally see them in and that is done to great comedic effect. Dwayne, Kevin, and Jack’s comedic talents shine in this movie. The body-swapping comedy in Jumanji: The Next Level is definitely one of its best moments.
Akwafina gives a nice performance as Ming The Thief, and it would be nice to see her again if ever there would be a third movie. While Nick Jonas returns as his character Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough. His arc in the first movie of being trapped in the game for 20 years has his depth, but now that he’s free, he doesn’t really add much to the story and is just there as a side character to help the heroes. The movie also tries to give Dwayne’s Dr. Bravestone some backstory, but it ends up falling flat and not contributing much at all to his character.
One of the best parts of this movie is its action and comedy. There are quite a few thrilling action sequences with a highlight being one involving hanging bridges and a lot of monkeys. Most of the jokes manage to land and given the comedic background of some of the actors, there are a few laugh-out-loud moments. It’s a very funny movie, maybe even funnier than the first one.
As compared to the first movie, Jumanji: The Next Level offers more varied visuals and locations.
While the first movie was mainly set in a jungle and forest-like areas, Jumanji: The Next Level features locations such as arid deserts and snowy mountains. This then helps make the film feel bigger than the first movie.
The film employs a mix of CGI with real-world locations. While some scenes look nice, others look questionable. The CGI implementation has some rough spots where it’s obvious that it was filmed using a green screen.
Early on in the film, Karen Gillan’s character of Ruby Roundhouse tells Dwayne Johnson’s Dr. Bravestone, who is being embodied by Eddie, that everything he sees is a video game and he shouldn’t take it seriously. Ultimately, that also applies to this movie; you shouldn’t take it seriously. It’s two hours of dumb fun and the audience doesn’t really have to think. As a sequel, it manages to be a good follow-up to the first movie. As a movie itself, it’s flawed but fun. Jumanji: The Next Level is thrilling and funny enough to offer the viewer fun, family-friendly entertainment.
Jumanji: The Next Level is now showing in PH cinemas.