Jumanji: The Next Level is the sequel to the 2017 sequel that is actually less like a sequel and more like a remake of Robin William’s 1995 movie titled Jumanji. Except, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle isn’t really a remake at all, but more of a reboot that is loosely inspired from the 1995 movie but not at all in the same universe. Still with me? Sweet!
SPOILERS AHEAD- Per the usual
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was one of the pleasant surprises of 2017 for me. The big four of Kevin Hart, The Rock, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black worked really well together to create a light-hearted, funny, action-packed movie that I’ve rewatched about 4 times now. The best thing about this kind of “inside the video game” type of movie is that there aren’t really any rules. They can do whatever they want and just say it’s part of the video game and suddenly I’m ok with it. It allows me to watch the movie less as a critic and judge it from more of a pure enjoyment perspective. Let’s take a look at some of the cast performances from Jumanji: The Next Level.
Danny DeRock Johnson and his Gang of Merry-Men
Along with all of the characters from the first movie, there are quite a few new names as well. Danny DeVito plays Spencer’s grandpa Eddie, and Danny Glover his old friend Milo Walker. My biggest reservation about the movie going in was how these two would mix with the big four from the last movie, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. When in the real world, DeVito is probably my favorite actor as pretty much every line he delivers has a touch of his classic brand of comedy. When in Jumanji, his personality adds another wrinkle to the performances of The Rock and Awkwafina.
The big twist in this adventure, as opposed to the last, is the personalities inhabiting our favorite actors. Johnson channels his inner DeVito, Hart manages to slow down his heart rated to imitate the mellow nature of Danny Glover, Jack Black is The Fridge, and Awkwafina is Spencer for a good portion of the movie. I also finally learned why the guy who plays Alex reminds me so much of Tom Hanks. It’s because he is Tom Hanks’ son Collin. Eventually, all of the old characters get back into the bodies that they inhabited in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, but it is fun to see those actors trying to channel the characteristics of completely different characters.
Ruby Roundhouse: Killer of Men- The Movie
Where the first movie was definitely centered around Spencer & Smolder Bravestone, Jumanji: The Next Level is definitely more centered around Ruby Roundhouse. She is the only character that doesn’t need time to figure out the body she is in, so she takes the lead on the majority of the mission. I really like Karen Gillan as an actress and I think the movie flows really well with her in the lead. Don’t get me wrong…you’ll still get your fill of The Rock, but he is more of a sidekick in this adventure.
Nothing about Jumanji is super original. There are plenty of video game-related movies and even more movies with the element of body-swapping, but these movies are so funny and entertaining that I don’t really care if the writing is lazy or the plot doesn’t make sense. For instance, it’s clear that this movie tries very hard to get every character down to one life pretty quickly. There are a lot of lives that are wasted early on just so the feeling of genuine peril is more realized by the end, but by the time each person gets to one life, it seems like no more mistakes are made. I honestly would’ve preferred if they’d have just given everyone two lives to start and said it was because the level is just more difficult than the last.
There were plenty of little things that seemed to be off throughout this movie. For example, at one point Roundhouse and Bravestone are climbing up the face of an ice cliff in the middle of a blizzard. They stop climbing at one point and have some dialogue about making up with each other etc. It is clear the wind is blowing hard as you see the snow blowing sideways, but when you look at Roundhouse, her hair is flawless without any snow on it and not really blowing in the wind. The thing is, this movie is so funny that I don’t really care. The answer to every one of those questions can simply be answered with “Eh, it’s a video game.” Also, can someone please explain to me how Alex and Bethany get into the game after Bethany clearly had no luck of her own?
While nothing about Jumanji: The Next Level is particularly original, I found myself engulfed in the hilarious and ever-entertaining world of characters that inhabit this universe. All of the acting performances are great, aside from my own personal vendetta against Awkwafina as one of the most annoying people in Hollywood, and chemistry of the core group of actors continues to shine. These movies will probably never make anyone’s list for best movies of all-time, but I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t find them funny and entertaining. I certainly do!