JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL – Same Same and Not Much Different

I loved the original, I loved the original re-boot and now there is more yay :). Sadly I couldn’t make the media screening, recently broken arm and all, but Kernel Blake has leveled up and I am heading to see it with the parents after Christmas. JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL is releasing on Boxing Day from the fine folks at Sony Pictures. It is rated PG and runs for 123mins. And on behalf of the Salty team we wish you all a Very Merry Christmas tomorrow. May Santa be generous. Ho ho ho……………Salty.

And now, enjoy Kernel Blake’s review.

BY BLAKE CURRALL

There’s a trend in video games, where each year a new version is released showing slight visual upgrades and even less slightly altered details and marketed as something new and fresh. But it’s basically the same thing you got last year. Coincidentally, JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL has just released, but is it new & fresh or just a reskinned take on the familiar?

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL Alex Wolff and Danny DeVito image
Alex Wolff and Danny DeVito

PRESS START:

The sequel to the reboot of the original JUMANJI, THE NEXT LEVEL continues the adventures from the surprisingly fun and fresh previous JUMANJI. Yes, this is confusing to write, too. All the characters from the previous film are back for more digital shenanigans, when Spencer (Alex Wolff) disillusioned with reality at college heads home for the holidays and dives back into the game world, the only place where he felt important.

The rest of the trio, Bethany, Martha & Fridge, wondering what has happened to their now missing friend head to his house to find the console they believe destroyed, still working. With much trepidation, they reluctantly head back to the JUMANJI jungle but this time there’s a few wrinkles. Firstly, because the game is a bit glitchy, the team can’t choose their digital avatars and their previous characters are all mixed up.

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart image
Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart

LEVEL UP:

Also drawn into the mix are Spencer’s grandfather, Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his ex-business partner Milo (Danny Glover). Eddie and Milo become The Rock and Kevin Hart’s avatars which leads to some fun comedic moments, as these two actors play the characters as clueless old guys having no idea what the hell is going on while playing JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL. Hart’s Danny Glover impersonation, in particular, is pretty damn good.

Once in the game, the team find themselves on pretty much the same quest as in the first film. Find a gem that has been stolen by generic bad guy, get to a high point on the map, shout JUMANJI and head home. All the while trying to find their lost friend who has been brought into the game as an entirely new character that could be anyone in the game world. This time around, JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL focusses more on Karen Gillan’s kick-ass Ruby Roundhouse and Jack Black’s bumbling Professor Oberon, with The Rock’s Smoulder Bravestone and Hart’s Finbar pushed more into the background, cracking old guy jokes for most of the laughs in the film.

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan and Dwayne Johnson image
Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan and Dwayne Johnson

THE FINAL BOSS:

What follows is pretty much a ‘been there, done that’ from the first (second) JUMANJI, with a chase scene or two involving rampaging hordes of animals, the team in-fighting and then coming together when it matters and a final fight with token bad guy, in this instance played by a sorely underused Rory McCann (The Hound from GoT). Awkwafina is the other new addition to the cast and again, thanks to some body swapping hijinks in the game, provides some laughs when her character is controlled by crusty old Eddie.

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart image
Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart

Those scenes where the old guys are trying to comprehend what they are a part of and the glacial way they get to the point provide the biggest laughs in JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL but unfortunately a lot of the time, the comedic beats from other characters seem to miss more than hit and just doesn’t have the same energetic sense of fun from the first instalment. It’s a shame that director Jake Kasdan didn’t strive for something a little more original this time around, but if you were a fan of the previous JUMANJI you will still find enough here to keep you entertained, even if it feels like you’ve played this game before.

KERNEL BLAKE’S POP SCORE:

YOUR CRITIC:

Kernel Blake is a part-time beard bandit, philanthropist, industrialist….bicyclist…photographer, world traveller, movie lover, a man of few words who enjoys the finer things in life. Like reciting Snake Plissken quotes. And when all that fails, heads out to a racetrack to do skids. He can be found twatting @bcurrall80 and hipstergramming @bcurrall80

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.

Privacy Preference Center