Directed by: Jake Kasdan – Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Danny Glover, Danny DeVito
I was extremely pleasantly surprised by 2017’s Jumaji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Despite initial trepidation about a remake of the much-loved classic movie, I felt that they had tweaked the premise – having four teenagers sucked into a computer game, and be transformed into their avatar alter-egos, instead of having people trapped in a board game – just enough to differentiate it, while also retaining the elements that made the original such fun.
I obviously wasn’t the only one who thought so, as it was a massive hit, hence this sequel.
At the end of the last movie (spoiler if you haven’t seen it) the game was destroyed, but unbeknownst to everyone, one of the teenagers who entered the game, Spencer (Wolff), had kept the components of it.
Feeling somewhat displaced while home for the holidays, he decides to re-enter the game, so that he can once again inhabit the body of his avatar, Dr Smoulder Bravestone (Johnson). When his friends notice that he’s missing, they decide to enter the game to rescue him.
However, his grandfather, Eddie (DeVito) is in the vicinity with his friend Milo (Glover) and they inadvertently find themselves sucked into the game as well. So with two pensioners who haven’t a clue about video games in tow, the gang must try and find Spencer and escape the game, before their lives run out.
Like all good sequels, Jumanji: The Next Level takes the best elements of the original and adds to them – in this case DeVito and Glover – which allows for much broader humour. The fact that it’s set in a video-game gives them a lot of free rein in terms of set-pieces, and there is some fabulous CGI, stunning locations, and epic cinematography.
The main cast acquit themselves well again, as they take on the multiple personalities of the various people who inhabit their avatars. Johnson in particular proves extremely funny and self deprecating, and Gillen is a totally kick-ass heroine.
Jumanji: The Next Level is great fun, with something for everyone. It is part body-swap comedy, part Indiana Jones adventure, and part computer game fantasy. It has some beautiful touching moments, and plenty of ‘laugh out loud’ scenes.
It is silly, yet manages to have an underlying serious message about friendship and family that never feels forced. While the last movie felt like its target audience was predominately tweens and teens, Jumanji: The Next Level feels much more family-orientated, and could well be on the way to becoming a beloved family franchise.
And since it’s set in a computer game, the plot possibilities are endless, as they can create ever more inventive ‘levels’.
Jumanji: The Next Level isn’t trying to be anything it isn’t. It is a popcorn movie – pure and simple. But a really enjoyable one.
In Cinemas Now! Trailer below: