Jumanji: The Next Level – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Jumanji: The Next Level – Welcome to an Adventure … Leveled Up

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a film that no one expected to be great.  It managed to reinvent the core elements of the original within colorful characters and interesting concepts.  A surprise hit, it managed to do well enough to spawn a sequel.  With the second iteration (and third in this franchise), Jumanji: The Next Level takes the previous story and push it forward in a semi new direction.  By mixing in some new elements, this is a sequel that is familiar but enjoyable.  Jumanji: The Next Level might not be a reinvention, but there is enough for a great journey on the big screen.  

The story follows the group of teenagers from the previous story, as three of them have travel back into the game to rescue one of their own.  As new challenges await, the group encounter new dangers as they must find a way to rekindle what they have lost along the way.  The sequel rehashes the outline of the previous film, but injects it with some new takes on the plot and characters.  You have the same group of teenagers, but they have moved on from high school to college.  The forward progress helps bring emotional worth into relationships that have been forgotten.  This personal conflict triggers the main plot: Martha, Bethany and Fridge must go back into the game to rescue Spencer.  As they enter the game, it also drags in Spencer’s Grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his friend Milo (Danny Glover).  With a mix-up of Avatars, the direction quickly thrust the audience into a typical rescue/adventure plotline.  We are re-introduced to the concepts of avatar’s strengths/weaknesses, NPC interactions and ‘save the world’ mission within the game.  As the story progress through its linear direction, the infusion between the adventure genre and video game elements feels lethargic in its execution.  What becomes enjoyable is the mix-up of avatars and how the new characters play within their roles.  The witty humor to the aloof mentality triggers an unorthodox ‘fish out of water’ aspect within the predictable plotline.

As the story moves within its point A to B format, the world building helps bring excitement to the familiar.  The group realizes memory of tactics used prior will not work within the new environment and challenges.  The return to Jumanji brings about unexpected threats that, if they work together, they can take out without any issues.  The return also brings to light the character dilemma’s of moving forward.  As much as the world might seem odd to the newcomers, being distant from the real world helps characters face truths about illusion of grandeur, growing up and past decisions.  These moments help create poignant scenarios of realistic drama.  As the story moves into the third act, the group faces the generic bad guy within some amazing action sequences.  This leads to a climax that is predictable, but leads to an epilogue of true fulfillment.  Jumanji: The Next Level plays that rehashing thread, but brings you on a journey that is fun and exciting.  If you’re a fan of the previous film, or want to have a fun time with family, this is one for you.  A definite fun time at the theaters.    

Full Score – 3.5 out of 5 (Matinee)

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