If you feel like you’ve played this game before it’s because you have. Jumanji: The Next Level, the sequel to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and the reboot to Jumanji, is every bit as funny as both of those. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart shine as Dr. Bravestone and Franklin Finbar or, should I say, Danny Devito and Danny Glover? Yet the star of this film is Karen Gillan as “The Man Killer” Ruby Roundhouse.
Jumanji: The Next Level captures all of the laughs of Welcome to the Jungle and may even be more action packed, but it’s very much the same film, thus ‘The Next Level.’ The team reunites within the game and must overcome various obstacles and challenges that plagued them in the first film. With only three lives each, they are on a quest to beat the boss and capture a treasure to yell out “Jumanji” and return home.
What ultimately makes this film different than the first and, most likely, better is the introduction of Devito and Glover as life-long business partners and friends who get sucked into the world of Jumanji too. Devito embodies the avatar played by Johnson, while Glover embodies the avatar of Hart. This scenario brings a different set of laughs but also a bit of emotion and levity to the film to counter the non-stop action.
While all of this goes on, Gillan carries the film as both the its real-time narrator and the glue that keeps the characters together. The Next Level has given her character more depth and more purpose, which Gillan takes advantage of with both her acting skills and ability to dominate action scenes with great athleticism.
Jumanji: The Next Level is in now way a step backwards from the first film. Sequels are always a challenge and this film met it head on and defeated it. Let’s part with the poor video game cliches and be completely direct: the film was excellent on its own merits. I could watch Dwayne Johnson impersonate Devito all day!
This film earns an entire loaf of meatloaf, which is the equivalent of an A from you non-mom’s basement dwellers!