JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: JAKE KASDAN / SCREENPLAY: JAKE KASDAN, JEFF PINKNER, SCOTT ROSENBERG / STARRING: DWAYNE JOHNSON, KEVIN HART, JACK BLACK, KAREN GILLAN / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 4TH (VOD), JUNE 1ST (DVD/BLU-RAY)
2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle took the concept of the original film to an entirely different level, going from board game to video game and taking us inside the world of Jumanji for the first time. Granted, it wasn't the greatest movie ever made, but it had likeable performances, solid action, and enough charm and charisma to keep it afloat. On top of all that, it made a lot of money; so obviously, it was time for a follow-up.
Surprisingly, Jumanji: The Next Level is just as enjoyable and pleasant as Welcome to the Jungle. As with the previous film, this is a rollicking adventure with solid pacing, loads of high-octane action, witty humour, wonderful performances, and oodles of charm that'll delight families across the board. It also takes a lot of very familiar video game tropes and makes fun of them, which produces some of the film's biggest laughs. However, the biggest success of this film is the central performances with this big A-list talent playing against type, although this time around, because of the narrative device of having the Jumanji game being busted, the characters' in-game avatars are switched around, plus new characters are brought into the mix.
Kevin Hart, who is known for being loud and manic, absolutely nails his hilarious impression of Danny Glover, right down to the voice and mannerisms. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is clearly trying his hardest to nail Danny DeVito's cranky personality and, despite getting the comedic beats, his version of DeVito is a tad wonky at best, but that's easily overlooked due to his great rapport with Hart. Jack Black is still Jack Black (what's more to say? He's still got it!), Karen Gillan is at the forefront this time around and delivers more of her awesome dance-fighting, while the introduction of Awkwafina proves to be an excellent addition, nailing both the character as well as the emotional beats.
If you really liked Welcome to the Jungle, then there's no doubt that you'll probably love The Next Level too, since it's basically more of the same. If you want something totally different and challenging, then you are better off searching someplace else, but if you want to dive back into that same world again, then this will pass the time perfectly fine. Not groundbreaking by any means, but it's fun nevertheless.