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Movie Review – Jumanji The Next Level

How do you follow up a successful, big budget action film like ‘Jumanji, Welcome to the Jungle’? By flipping the premise of the video game version of Jumanji on it’s head. And by having a lot of fun along the way.

The film picks up after the core cast of four teenagers have moved on to college. Martha, Bethany, and Fridge have all had a successful first semester of college. Spencer, on the other hand, is feeling insecure and lonely. Having rescued the Jumanji video game console from the trash, he reenters the game.  His three friends go in after Spencer to rescue him, bringing in Spencer’s grandfather (Danny Devito) and the old mans long lost friend (Danny Glover). Bethany somehow gets left behind and enlists Alex (Colin Hanks) to help her get back in.

Only Martha gets her old avatar back (Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse).  Fridge ends up in Shelly (and Jack Black turns in another great performance). Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart get to do their versions of old men. And Bethany comes back as a horse.  When they find Spencer, he is in Awkwafina’s avatar.

Hilarity ensues, even when Rory McCann’s villian does his worst. Each character gets a new strength, which always comes in later. In reality, it’s the acting of the stars that sell the movie. The effects are pretty, but the performances are where this new sequel shines.

There’s a mid credits scene that hints at the next sequel. Will it return to the format to the Robin Williams original and have creatures of the game running amuck in their small town? We can only hope.

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