Cert – 12, Run-time – 2 hours 3 minutes, Director – Jake Kasdan
When Spencer (Alex Wolff) decides to return to the world of Jumanji his friends decide to follow in the hope of saving him, and helping him to complete what seems to be an almost entirely new game.
2017’s Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, the sort of sequel- soft-reboot of 1995’s Robin Williams starrer Jumanji was well-received by critics and audiences alike. Being an enjoyable, star-studded film to end the year on, and ended up becoming one of the highest grossing films of the year. Now such stars return, bringing more along with them, to the video game world of Jumanji when Spencer (Alex Wolff) is tired of his life away from his friends, being on “a break” with girlfriend Martha (Morgan Turner), after coming together at the end of the first film, and ignoring the group chat with fellow friends Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) and Bethany (Madison Iseman) in, isolating himself to his life at university. Spencer wishes to be back in the body of video game character Dr Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson). It’s not long until his friends suspect something wrong and find themselves taken back into the game, along with, accidentally Spencer’s grandfather, Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his friend Milo (Danny Glover).
However, the group find themselves not in the same bodies as before. Fridge finds himself taking the form of Jack Black, Eddie that of Dwayne Johnson, Milo being Kevin Hart, the zoologist with the weakness for cake, Spencer takes the form of new cast member Awkwafina (Ming – an expert pickpocket and thief) and Bethany becomes a horse, due to no other characters being available. In fact the only person in the same body is Martha, again taking the form of Karen Gillan. With the switched-up characters the group find themselves with new skills, weaknesses and climates to tackle, as the game appears to have changed. They’re new objective being to find Jurgen The Brutal (Rory McCann), a medieval style villain who poses the stone that can take everyone back to the real world.
Unfortunately it appears that with two elderly men being a part of the game things are going to be even more difficult and deadly than they already seem. Milo’s long-winded answers and lengthy pauses make for a zoologist character that takes far too long to get to the point – bringing the group to a number of near-death situations. Whilst Eddie finds himself constantly confused as to what’s going on, never properly grasping the fact that he’s in a video game, thinking that he’s actually died, and loving his new body with hips that move properly. And this is about as far as the gags in this sequel go. While the first film was commended for its wit and humour that managed to find success with a variety of audiences this return has one joke, and that’s Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are old people. Something which might be amusing in the trailers, or done in the past, but not now. The joke quickly wears thin, to the point where it seems as if it’s just a thing that’s happening instead of a joke, when the idea’s repeated multiple times throughout each scene.
Scenes that begin to feel like cutscenes from a video game. Extended, lengthy ideas that begin to seem to go on for a bit too long. While The Next Level feels more like a video game than Welcome To The Jungle, which did have its elements. Possibly the sense of adventure and the general look of the piece, which is as detailed as before and helps to bring the viewer into the world. From desert landscapes to icy mountain climbs there’s much more to this film than just the jungle in terms of location and it helps to flesh the piece out and keep the viewer slightly engaged. However, with some scenes going on for slightly too long, and the few jokes quickly wearing thin you might feel like you’re in the world however you never properly feel involved with the characters of the unfolding actions on screen. Meaning that the film as a whole begins to fall.
Admittedly there are some enjoyable ideas and moments scattered throughout, some of the fight sequences are fairly well done, even if there isn’t major sense of threat or tension within them, and there are one or two slight chuckles – probably only about one or two. For what it does offer the film is relatively well-paced and if it were to raise more laughs then it may be a more satisfying piece. However, despite all the other elements working, and the case clearly having a good time returning and making this film it’s not as fun for the viewer due to the lack of laughs and therefore major entertainment factor that the film tries to get across during a number of scenes. Leading to the film failing because of this missing key detail
Jumanji: The Next Level takes many of Welcome To The Jungle’s elements and develops them further. Unfortunately the predominantly one-note humour does begin to drag the film down leading to a lacking feel in the otherwise high potential entertainment factor.