The latter half of 2017 welcomed a complete surprise, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It was a wonderfully hilarious romp that went on to storm the box office. To many people’s surprise, it was a massive success financially and critically. After a two year gap, we are invited back into the jungle with Jumanji: The Next Level. The sequel is nearly as funny as the first, nearly as entertaining, and is not nearly as on the level of flawless that the first is. The keyword is ‘nearly’, for it is still a well-made film with well-intentions that simply cannot live up to the gem that came before.
The Next Level is elevated from mediocrity to a level of goodness via the comedic chops of Kevin Hart and Jack Black. Both are firing off on all cylinders. Undoubtedly, you will laugh and be entertained with the ridiculous events as we return to the jungle (although not for long).
Living in New York and struggling with a sense of isolation, Spencer (Alex Wolff) goes back into the video game world of Jumanji. The original crew is forced to re-enter the game to bring him home. However, everything has changed with characters being swapped. Unfamiliar threats arise and a whole new journey into the now-not-so-jungle-filled world of Jumanji begins.
After sitting on the film and thinking about it, I find myself forgetting more day by day. This in comparison to the first is the complete opposite- every beat is remembered and cherished compared to this some-what forgettable journey. Nevertheless, it does get progressively better, especially once past the re-introduction of our characters. It starts a little slow, not in terms of pace, but in terms of stakes.
The whole adult cast is on-point, with Black and Hart absolutely stealing the show. Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillen provide a neat backbone for the two comedic geniuses. The Next Level brings in Danny DeVito, Danny Glover and Awkwafina. DeVito and Glover are quite priceless in their minimal screen time, Hart and Johnson hold up their persona’s making you feel they were in more than they actually are. The grandparent figures are a neat addition.
The Story of The Next Level is very much so basic and textbook-like, with all sorts of cliches. The narrative and story of the film are far less involving and captivating. What continues the narrative along giving it a sense of flow is the comedy, it is as if the comedy acts as a mask to hide the film’s inherent flaws in its structure.
Jumanji: The Next Level is very funny and entertaining, but lacks the spark of the first. Hart and Black stand out once more, firing off their comedic chops on all cylinders.