Jumanji: The Next Level Raises The Stakes

Nick Jonas, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson Awkwafina and Kevin Hart star in Jumanji: The Next Level.

Jumanji: The Next Level appropriately raises the stakes as the game takes all the major players to the next level upon their return.

If you read nothing else, please do not immediately leave as the credits begin to role.  There is a mid-credits scene.

It’s been two years since the previous adventure.  While some things have changed, the core four have remained friends.  So what happened to lead us to where we find ourselves today?  It’s the holidays and while Spencer (Alex Wolff) has returned home to Brantford, N.H., he’s not exactly feeling the same.  The feeling inside of him is what draws him back into the world of Jumanji.  This time, however, the stakes are completely different.  Martha (Morgan Turner), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), and Bethany (Madison Iseman) have no choice but to go on a dangerous rescue mission.

There’s just tiny little catch, however.  The game is broken!  But despite the game being broken, there have also been changes to the avatars.  It’s nothing big in particular other than strengths or weaknesses.  These changes are more or less due to the next level.  One such change is that we’re not just in a jungle on the second go around.  No, there are desert locations in addition to the icy mountains.  Standing in the way is Jurgen The Brutal (Rory McCann).

Visually speaking, the cinematography of the sand dunes echo that of Lawrence of Arabia.  Sure, such a comparison may be a stretch since this film is certainly not an epic.  Far from it to tell you the truth.  It sure could stand to lose a few minutes though.  Comedies, even action comedies, shouldn’t run more than 100 minutes.

Of course, returning to the jungle would not be the same if the filmmakers didn’t find a way to freshen things up.  This is where Milo (Danny Glover) and Spencer’s grandfather, Eddie (Danny DeVito) enter the picture.  Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan aren’t fused to any one human from the real world.  Because of this, you never know who is going to end up in what body.  The game has a way of teaching these characters so to speak.  It’s because of this that Spencer is feeling a bit off and lands back in the game in the first place!  Anyway, it’s interesting to watch these actors play the roles on second go-around.  Johnson and Hart are essentially playing against type.  That being said, it does become a bit old as the gag is over-played.

Who would have ever thought we would reach the day where Dwayne Johnson would act like Danny DeVito on screen?!?  More impressively, somebody finally found a way to slow Kevin Hart down when it comes to talking.  If it hasn’t been said enough yet, Karen Gillan is an action star.

Jumanji: The Next Level may be a bit on the long side but the film continually keeps us entertained while its characters learn a lesson.

DIRECTOR:  Jake Kasdan
SCREENWRITERS:  Jake Kasdan & Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg
CAST:  Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Morgan Turner, Alex Wolff, with Danny Glover and Danny DeVito

Columbia Pictures opens Jumanji: The Next Level in theaters on December 13, 2019. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.