Jumanji: The Next level (2019) - Review
Jumanji: The Next Level is the sequel of 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser'Darius Blain and Madison Iseman reprising their roles from the previous film. Awkwafina, Rory McCann, Danny Glover and Danny DeVito are the new additions to this all-star cast. Jumanji: The Next Level was theatrically released in North America on December 13, 2019 by Columbia Pictures. The film grossed $796.6 million worldwide against a $125 million budget, becoming the tenth highest-grossing film of 2019. Does the movie have the same winning formula as the first movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle? Let’s break it down together.
The Plot This movie takes place 3 years after Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Spencer (Alex Wolf) is now a freshman at NYU. He has been maintaining a rocky long-distance relationship with Martha (Morgan Turner). He returned home for the Christmas break not too sure if they are still in a relationship. He feels depressed and decides not to meet his friends (the ones from the last movie) for a reunion. Instead, he dreams of going back to Jumanji where his life appeared to be easier more familiar. At the end of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the video game was destroyed, however Spencer kept the pieces. He pieced together the console and re-entered the Jumanji game. The next day, Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Bethany (Madison Iseman) and Martha (Morgan Turner) decided to go check up on him since he did not show up to the reunion. They are greeted by Spencer's grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) who is recuperating from hip surgery (we also see him in the house beforehand, along with his stair lift, hospital bed, and CPAP machine). Eddie’s former business partner Milo (Danny Glover) is also there. He had gone over to try to patch-up their friendship which Eddie wanted no part of. Martha and Fridge deduced that Spencer went back into the game and decided to go after him. The game however malfunctioned and sucked in not only Martha and Fridge, but Eddie and Milo. This left only Bethany in the real world. Only Martha (Morgan Turner) become the same avatar as the last instalment—Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). Grandpa Eddie is in Dr. Bravetstone’s body, leading to a ridiculously funny performance by Dwayne Johnson emulating a very grouchy Danny DeVito in a very large body. Milo, meanwhile, ends up in Mouse Finbar, leading to the least Kevin Hart-like performance from Kevin Hart ever. Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) ends up in Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) which he found even worse than when he was stuck as Mouse, Bravestone’s weapon valet, whose weaknesses included cake.
This time around they once again must obtain a stone from an evil villain. At this level, Jurgen the Brutal (played by Game of Thrones alum Rory McCann) is the game villain. He has similar goons as the villain in the first movie doing his dirty work, and the whole plot played out pretty similarly to Welcome To The Jungle, with some twists and turns as they track down Spencer who is in the avatar Ming, a sneaky burglar who also happened to be an Asian woman (Awkwafina). Eventually Bethany and the character they rescued in the first film, Alex (Colin Hanks), show up in the game, too. Alex is back with his previous avatar, Seaplane (Nick Jonas), but Bethany is a whole new character. This sets the table for the movie.
Review Basically, there are two major concepts to this movie. One is being trapped in the video game and having an objective to obtain in order to be released from the game. The second concept is the odd couple or grumpy old men. It might sound odd putting it in these terms, but I must admit it turned out to be a winning formula. The movie was kept relevant by introducing some new characters that you would never think to associate with a video game. To see Dwayne Johnson trying to mimic Danny Devito and seeing Kevin Hart mimicking a slow speaking Danny Glover is worth the price of admission. They both bicker at each other like an old couple which is just hilarious. I think they achieved the effect they wanted with these two characters. Check them out in action below:
I also give kudos to the performance of Jack Black. The ability to change persona numerous times and making it believable is quite astounding. I was always a Jack Black fan so I might be a little bias. I find he is an underrated actor. He turned a supporting actor role into one of the memorable characters. Check him out in the clip below:
One of the attractions of this movie is the fact they took the concept of a vintage adventure video game and incorporated its limitations which gives the movie some type of realistic feel. It appeals to the cultural nostalgia of the 90s-era action video games poking fun at its technical limitations and cliched aspects of that experience (bad exposition, underwritten supporting characters and silly situations). These video games were addictive back in the day. This is part of the charm of these Jumanji movies. Like in all video games, the 2nd level is harder than the 1st, which again makes the video game more believable. It created some great new areas in the Jumanji game world itself and was just as funny and well-written as the last movie. The fantasy of the avatars, with their assigned strengths and weaknesses, make it possible for the characters to become more honest with themselves and each other. As with the first film, the humor, action and excitement are well balanced, so it never gets too terrifying or ridiculous, and the focus is more on friendship than romance.
Bottom Line I enjoyed this movie as much as the first one. It is well written, the characters were well played, and it was a great distraction for a couple of hours. There are many reviews out there that give it a mediocre to bad review. I am not sure why. I think those people forgot what a movie is supposed to be: an enjoyable escape for a few hours. Not all movies need to be a classic like the Godfather. This movie was made for the family and they hit their mark. Not only there is a great balance between comedy and action, it also delivers in the special affects. It is simply a great movie to watch as a family. I give this movie an 8.5 on 10. A great Friday night movie for the entire family, young and old !!!! Let us know if you agree with us or not. Leave a comment below or on social media.