Jumanji: The Next Level has a few glitches to start with, but once they are patched, we are back in action.
Jumanji: The Next Level is directed by Jake Kasdan (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and stars Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs & Shaw), Karen Gillan (Avengers: Endgame), Jack Black (School of Rock), Kevin Hart (The Upside) and Nick Jonas. They are joined by Danny DeVito (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) and Awkwafina (The Farewell).
Jumanji: The Next Level starts by following Spencer, who has started to feel down about his life not being as exciting as he thought it would be, heading home to see Martha, Bethany, and Fridge who are all enjoying their lives in their separate directions. Due home for Christmas, Spencer decides to try and rebuild the Jumanji game to regain his own confidence. The rest of the friends come searching for Spencer only to find themselves sucked back into the game, only with a change; Grampa Ed (DeVito) and his old partner Milo (Glover) fill certain characters. The friends must learn to adapt to the changes in the game as they prepare for a new adventure against a new enemy with new threats along the way.
Jumanji: The Next Level continues the adventures that the characters go on, and much like a new video game, we get an entirely new world for the computer characters to go through; instead of the jungle location, we move to the desert area right up to the snow-covered mountain range, with a hugely original bridge-crossing sequence. The traveling adventure side might well be similar to the last film, with the idea of getting to each location, finding something, etc., it all works well and didn’t need to be changed. Where the story shines more than anything is by focusing on friendships; we see how difficult maintaining them can be not just for the college-age characters, but the older ones that have seen their lives go in a different direction after years together. Outside of the two key factors of the story, we do fall into some body-swapping comedy, which strangely is the weakest part of the story, with certain matches just not working as well as in the first movie.
Jumanji: The Next Level does bring back the original cast with Jack Black and Karen Gillan being the highlights of the acting, the pair have such perfect comedy timing. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart do try something different with how their characters are meant to play out, only for most of their early comedy to fall short, where they struggle to play versions of more famous actors, instead of small traits which they worked well with in the first film. We do have newcomers here with Awkwafina, who once she gets given the right character to play is brilliant with the laughs, while Danny DeVito and Danny Glover just bring the old man comedy, which isn’t the strongest part of the film.
Jumanji: The Next Level is a fun adventure comedy that still manages to hold the high standards that were set in Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle and still manages to pay a large amount of respect to the original Jumanji too. The comedy might not click to start with, but once we add instead of change much of the last one, we get back on track to the entertaining levels we expect from the franchise.