Jumanji: The Next Level is a sequel that levels up the fun.
In cinematic franchises, Jumanji: The Next Level emerges as the third installment, continuing the legacy of the classic Jumanji series. However, skepticism loomed large among fans when the second film, “Welcome To The Jungle,” hit theaters in 2017. Many questioned the need for a remake, yet it surprised audiences by evolving into an impressive “sequel-reboot,” paying homage to the original film starring the late Robin Williams. Although I initially missed its theatrical run, catching it on digital later revealed a cinematic surprise.
The plot revolves around Spencer’s return to the fantastical world of Jumanji, prompting his friends Martha, Fridge, and Bethany to re-enter the game to rescue him. Unbeknownst to them, the game has undergone significant changes, presenting new obstacles and heightened danger. While “The Next Level” kicks off slowly, it employs a familiar formula from its predecessor with notable changes and an expanded cast featuring talents like Danny DeVito, Donald Glover, and Awkwafina. Although Glover’s presence is limited, DeVito shines, and Awkwafina pleasantly surprises, stealing the spotlight in her scenes.
My reservations about the young actors persist from the previous installment, but the introduction of the all-star cast compensates. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson delivers a standout performance, showcasing his comedic prowess and brilliantly embodying Danny DeVito. The chemistry between Johnson and Kevin Hart remains a highlight, with Hart effectively channeling the persona of Danny Glover’s character. While Karen Gillian and Jack Black have reduced screen time, their joint scenes continue to impress, especially a memorable sequence featuring Gillian as Ruby Roundhouse, unleashing her combat skills.
The film’s visual effects and CGI deserve commendation for their excellence, contributing to an engaging and thrilling action-adventure experience. However, the absence of a compelling villain and the lack of insight into the lore of Jumanji, particularly its transition from a board game to a video game, left me somewhat disappointed.
I give Jumanji: The Next Level a 4 out of 5 stars. Despite these minor drawbacks, “The Next Level” is a delightful holiday flick suitable for the entire family. Make sure to stick through a post-credits scene that gives a glimpse of the future of the franchise.