FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Two nights ago, I saw “Jumanji: The Next Level,” which stars Dwayne Johnson (Moana, San Andreas), Kevin Hart (Ride Along, Grudge Match), Jack Black (Nacho Libre, King Kong ), Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Big Short), Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, Ocean’s Eight), Nick Jonas (Midway, Jonas [TV series]), Alex Wolff (Hereditary, Patriots Day), Morgan Turner (Invincible, Wonderstruck), Madison Iseman (Annabelle Comes Home, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween), Ser’Darius Blain (Star Trek Into Darkness, The Last Full Measure), Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia [TV series]), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, Be Kind Rewind), and Rhys Darby (What We Do in the Shadows , Yes Man). It is directed by Jake Kasdan (Bad Teacher, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story), who also wrote it with Jeff Pinkner (Venom, The Dark Tower) and Scott Rosenberg (Gone in 60 Seconds, Con Air). When Spencer (Wolff) goes back into the game of Jumanji, it’ll be up to his friends to get him back. Unfortunately for the gang, Spencer’s grandpa Eddie (DeVito) and his friend Milo (Glover) get sucked in as well.
Toss Danny DeVito into the mix and I’m sold. That’s all I’m saying. In all seriousness, “Jumanji: The Next Level” is another entertaining entry from Jake Kasdan and crew, filled with even more action, adventure, and laughst than the previous installment. They went big, and boy did it show. New terrains, animals, villains, and playable characters take center stage of this new film, all of which juice up the adrenaline this story seeks to evoke. For the most part, it works, and my family was engaged. Sure, everything is pretty much a rehash of the former, whether it comes to going back into the video game or the mechanics of it, but Kasdan does enough to pump some freshness into the dead horse by means of sight gags, DeVito/Glover impressions, and ostriches. Yes, ostriches. While “Welcome to the Jungle” took its action and used it to bring out the drama/character development, this time around it is used to encite humor. By a long shot, “The Next Level” is the funniest entry. My family and I were crying laughing, for there is a lot here to take joy in (more so the first half than second). However, the story is clearly surface level. Get from point A to point B, with the main character growth being between DeVito’s Eddie and Glover’s Milo. It was great that the writers chose to escavate the new characters’ possibilities, but it was at the slight of all our formers not having anything new to do. The story is set up to deal with Spencer’s issue involving his relationship with Martha (Turner) and his friends at large. Unfortunately, this is given the stiff arm over Eddie and Milo’s bitter friendship, leaving for a story that presents two fairly weak arcs. Don’t get me wrong, the development between Eddie and Milo was solid, but was it worth having the sequel? Not really. That relies on our main heroes and what needs to be uncovered for them; from my understanding, there was nothing else for them to do. But, when you’ve got a money making franchise, why not pump out another? When it comes down to it, “The Next Level” is a very entertaining release that gives you what you want: action, adventure, and laughs. If you enjoyed the first, you’ll like this one. It surely has rewatchability value in its lunacy and grants a fun movie night. While it doesn’t have as much story weight as its former, it does hat it set out to do. FINAL SCORE: 75%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: