When Jumanji was rebooted, a couple of years ago, we were treated to something of a rarity these days: A family friendly adventure film. That film was deservedly well-received so it was only a matter of time before the sequel came along.
It’s nice to be able to say that Jumanji: The Next Level is every bit as much fun as its predecessor.
The set-up is much the same, with a group of people being sucked into the magical video game in which they have to Save Jumanji to escape. Once again, a lot of the comedy derives from the players finding themselves inhabiting in-game avatars that are completely at odds with their actual looks and personalities. This time around, though, the filmmakers switch things up a bit with some in-game body-swapping and, more significantly, the addition of Danny DeVito and Danny Glover as an elderly pair who struggle with the concept of being in a game.
A couple of the jokes fall a bit flat, but the film moves along at such a pace that they are soon forgotten. And the action set-pieces are all suitably spectacular.
It is, however, the characters that really make this film so much fun to watch. Highlights include Jack Black’s Shelly Oberon, successfully channeling multiple characters, and Dwayne Johnson’s utterly over the top impersonation of Danny Devito but all of the cast are both superb and do a great job of keeping you up to speed as to who exactly is who.
Jumanji: The Next Level does a great job of reworking the tropes of the earlier film while still feeling fresh and fun. Given the number of sequels that feel far too much like lazy cash-ins, this makes this one a film to be treasured.