Jumanji: The Next Level – Review

Rated: 12A
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Awkwafina, Nick Jonas
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Written by Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg
Length: 123mins

2017 introduced a new generation to the thrilling and captivating world of Jumanji with a whole new take on the 1995 movie starring Robin Williams. With a fresh approach which saw our heroes pulled in to the game, rather than characters from the game entering our world, some were nervous that the new movie wouldn’t even come close to iconic original. The masses flocked to see the brilliant Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black play video game avatars, taking on the personalities of teenagers and audiences were taken aback by the hilarious performances, brilliant writing and completely fresh idea to compliment the original movie. Is making another film pushing it that bit too far? Or has Jake Kasdan managed to pull off another hit sensation?

Jumanji: The Next Level see’s our heroes returning into the world of Jumanji expecting to find the same ‘game’ as last time but are surprised to find a whole new quest. Not only are there new levels to face, but different bodies, skills and weaknesses. Part of the charm of the Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017) was it’s originality, it had never been done before and was funny to all ages. While still funny, this presents the issue that the audiences know roughly what to expect, it takes some of the ‘wow-factor’ out of it and requires more thought to captivate and hold it’s audience.

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017) explored themes of friendship in high school and looking beyond individuals differences. Jumanji: The Next Level carries on with similar themes, but considers taking friendships further as you enter a more grown up world and, through the brilliant Danny DeVito and Danny Glover, the importance of forgiveness and the value of long lasting friendships. I love how there are two storylines intertwined throughout – as you would expect, the bulk of the story, humour and attention is on the world of Jumanji and it’s avatars, but the action that takes place at the beginning and end with the ‘real’ characters is just as interesting and entertaining. Separate stories, connected perfectly. The writers have managed to create characters that we as an audience are so drawn to in their ‘real’ forms, that it affects how we view their avatars and to me that is just incredible. Yes, of course this is hugely assisted by the wonderful cast and their detailed, intricate performances, but I found myself caring for the personality of the avatars, not just their amusing characteristics within the game.

There’s not too much more I can comment on without introducing spoilers and this is a film that will be best enjoyed if you go in with no expectations. But I would highly recommend this movie as a bit of exciting, family fun over this festive period. It has laughs for all the ages, with sufficient action, good pace and important underlying themes. A brilliant piece of lighthearted film making that you can share with everyone.

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