Jumanji: The Next Level
Jumanji: The Next Level is exactly what you would expect from an action-adventure movie, its fun, entertaining and engaging.
The movie continues from where the first ended, with Spencer, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany continuing through life with their newfound friendship. The problem with this is that the dialogue for their group scenes comes across as that written by a bot that has been fed countless hours of teen comedy movies, and leaves audiences alienated from the movie early on because of how unrealistic the interactions are.
Getting into the main bulk of the movie, every scene is dominated by Danny DeVito and Danny Glover’s characters, more so the performances of Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson as these elderly men. Each scene is stolen by how entertaining these outlandish performances are, much like Jack Black in Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle. Although the film suffers from repeating the same gag for far too long, with the elderly characters not understanding what is going on and what a videogame is. Beyond this, the performances are sound, entertaining to watch and enjoyable.
It is noticeable that a lot of the progression of the teenagers is lost as soon as the game of Jumanji is introduced. For example, the first film ends with the characters progressing in some form like Bethany becoming humble and Spencer becoming braver. In this continuation, the characters immediately panic when thrust back into the game rather than being familiar with their situation. Most noticeably is Spencer with his story arch revolving around not wanting to face reality and wanting to feel brave again, which undermines his character and makes him appear more pathetic than before.
Noticeably Jumanji: The Next Level follows a lot of the same beats as the first installment. These are most noticeable when the gang of characters enter the game, with Fridge being attacked by a giant snake when explaining the dangers within the environment. This clearly parallels Bethany being attacked by a Hippopotamus in the first movie. These aren’t the only parallels that are noticeable within the film either, with the characters repeating the same talk about their character lives in the game, finding their strengths and weaknesses, NPC characters not responding and clearly acting as game characters to really hammer home this point.
What I did find unnecessary in this follow up was the return of Alex (Played by Colin Hanks), the character hardly serves a purpose much beyond helping Bethany repair the videogame cartridge so that she can join everyone else within the game. This is especially so when in the closing scene of the film all the teens are back together having lunch together and Alex is nowhere to be seen, and yes I am aware his character lives a completely different life there is a clear disregard for his character overall.
It is also easy to notice that by the final act of the film the writers don’t know how to utilize everyone’s character for the final battle, but instead relegate the funniest characters to the sidelines with them being captured by the enemy, allowing for all the gang from the first movie to take center stage for their final showdown. While the final act isn’t by any means boring or bad it appears that the writers had no intention of having all the characters together before going forward towards the final stages of the game.
While I have spoken for a while regarding the negatives of the film, I will say that it does have entertaining chase scenes that are action-packed and suspenseful. I talk specifically about the first encounter inside the game where the team are forced into dirt buggies to escape from ostriches, and an encounter they face with an unrelenting number of Mandrills. Interestingly the film plays around with a new concept where the characters can switch avatars with each other allowing for the most efficient playstyle in Jumanji. Although this isn’t nearly explored enough, instead of being relegated to one scene where Fridge and Martha switch characters and then brought back once more to allow the gang to take control of the character they’re best suited for.
Upon final reflection, it is easy to pick out the flaws of this film that is clearly intended as a fun family film, but it is exactly that, a fun family film that I think will do a decent enough job at the box office given the time of year. Jumanji: The Next Level is one to kick up your feet and have a few laughs with.