Title: Jumanji: The Next Level
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Jake Kasdan
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Danny Glover, and Danny DeVito
Movie length: 2 hours 3 minutes
What it is: The Next Level is a direct sequel to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which was itself a sequel to the Robin Williams’ starring Jumanji from 1995. This adventure will once again see the characters from …Jungle being sucked into the world of Jumanji and needing to overcome the game to escape – this time, however, the game is broken and exhibiting some major glitches, and our returning heroes must once again complete the mission or die in the world of Jumanji. In addition to the returning cast, Awkwafina, Danny Glover, and Danny DeVito are all set to appear in the fantasy adventure comedy.
What I thought: I can’t lie – as unbiased and impartial as you try to be as a critic, going into the movie, I wanted to like it. I was a massive fan of the original that starred Robin Williams, and enjoyed the last movie featuring this new cast lineup. But, sad to say, this sequel just didn’t do it for me: it felt like the same movie as the previous – new scenery and a new villain, but the same basic premise.
The additions of DeVito, Glover, and Awkwafina to the cast was terrific, but having Johnson try to mimic DeVito’s accent was a big time failure in my opinion.
In the first movie, the character played by Johnson had no weaknesses, but this time around they gave him one… but they didn’t capitalize on it, and the scene which highlighted and cantered on it was, well, weak.
The final battle with the end boss was also pretty lackluster and, overall, as much as I wanted to like the movie, I just couldn’t. Is it a good popcorn movie? Yes, but if you wanted to discover the same magic as the last one, this movie struggles to boot up and deliver.
The production design was terrific I have to say, the movie is supposed to be set in a video game and it succeeded with the scenery and design when the characters get transported back to Jumanji. Likewise with the score, it was very video game-ish, and went along well with the visuals on the screen. which is not a surprise as it was done by Henry Jackman who has done quite a few scores for video games including the two for the action adventure Uncharted video game series.
The roles played by DeVito and Glover were small (we only see them in the real world). Due to the game choosing the closest people when it transports the players to Jumanji we see Johnson trying his best to mimic DeVito and Hart pretending (and succeeding) to channel Glover.
In terms of character development, since the movie is a sequel knowing about the last movie helps since they didn’t get that much development in this one. The new to the movie roles (DeVito and Glover) got a little bit of character development at the start of the movie which helps when we see Johnson and Hart pretend to be them.
Oh, and there is a small scene right after the movie ends which seems to set up another sequel, and considering how well the first one did (and how well this one may do at the box office), I see another one happening in a couple of years.
My grade: C. The movie tries so hard to Conjure what made Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle a hit, but appears to be stuck in a loop, unable to repeat the magic.
Jumanji: The Next Level is set for release on December 13th, 2019 in the United States.