Jumanji: The Next Level Poster
Directed and Co-Written by Jake Kasdan, Jumanji: The next level is the sequel to the 2017 hit Jumanji: Welcome to the jungle. The movie follows the same group of kids in another adventure when one of them decides to start the game again. But things get astray when they end up with different characters from last time and take new players with them in the game.

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are oozing chemistry right now, so it only makes sense to give them the craziest part of the script. And to their credit, them playing Danny DeVito and Danny Glover is just hilarious. They don’t feel like downright impressions because they have their own takes on it, and that makes it feel authentic. Both Hart and Johnson give great performances and kept enough of themselves intact especially their voices because those are elements that shouldn’t change no matter who plays the avatar. And without spoiling anything, that’s just a part of how crazy the writers went with character swapping. Without a doubt, the writers understand all these actors extremely well and they understand who can play each other right. Awkwafina gives a great performance as a burglar in-game but it’s hard to discuss her part spoiler-free.

The visuals look fantastic with both the real and the CGI. The entire movie has a variety of scenic locales with exciting set pieces and CGI being used particularly well for the animals in the game. But much like the characters in-game, the movie also stems its weakness from this very strongly. This sequel feels even less of a video game than its predecessor with a weak structure and a very thin plot connecting the set pieces. Scenic locales just change when the story needs it to and there really is no explanation for it. The 2017 movie did, to a certain extent, feel like one cohesive game with a much better structure to it. And since this one has such a variety of backdrops the changes just feel that much more obvious.

And no one expects any better but there are still a lot of plot conveniences and movie logic that is required to get events flowing at times. Not to mention there’s no explanation about the story changes in the same game cartridge or how new characters exist. But that’s not a big complaint since they use it to display great chemistry and humor on screen. A bigger complaint, however, is the abrupt transitions into emotional scenes with characters. A particular scene comes to mind with two characters having an important emotional scene while climbing a vertical mountain with pickaxes. And since we know them mostly through their game avatars (even the kids) caring about their issues is a slight effort. Added on top of it is the thrift between Devito and Glover’s characters who are brand new to the story which is even harder to care about.

Jumanji: The next level is good entertainment for the actors on screen, their chemistry and the adventure they share despite its flaws. It doesn’t feel as fresh as its predecessor but brings new ideas and actors to a similar setup and executes them very well. If you were a fan of the 2017 film, there’s no reason not to see this one.

Score: 3/5

Read about how Danny DeVito and Dwayne Johnson crashed a wedding and sang a karaoke duet here