Jumanji: The Next Level Movie Review
At this point, I'm only going to these for the cast. Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and newcomers Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Awkwafina, and Nick Jonas keep the film entertaining enough to stick around to see what happens.
The film follows an insecure Spencer who decides to return to Jumanji on his own in order to embody Dr. Bravestone again. He thinks that'll help him get his self-esteem back. But, the game has a mind of its own. (How, we still have no idea.) His friends discover what he has done and return to Jumanji as well in order to save him. Spencer's grandfather Eddie and Eddie's friend Milo are also unwittingly sucked into the game. No one is who they used to be, however, as the gang finds out that Dr. Bravestone isn't Spencer at all, but rather grandpa Eddie. Now, old and new will have to work together if they're going to find Spencer and get him back into the real-world alive.
So, what I did like was the body-switching idea. Having Dwayne Johnson act like DeVito was pretty hilarious and seeing Kevin Hart's Danny Glover impersonation was pretty spot-on. That was probably the highlight of the movie and it wrestled a few laughs out of me. I also liked the idea of Spencer's friends being able to go in and save him. Poor Allan Parrish (from the original) was stuck in Jumanji until someone rolled a 5 or an 8.
What I didn't like was pretty much everything else. Jumanji was originally meant to be a frightening experience but now, with these "sequels", it's become just another mindless comedic action movie. Sure, there's plenty of laughs but there's no heart or true consequences anymore. When Jumanji was a board game, it was do or die. Now that it's a video game, you get three chances so if you mess up, it's no big deal. Just start again. Maybe I'm just old-school, but the original film, dated as it may be, was a far cry better than the newer ones.
In conclusion, if you set aside the first and only look at the two new ones then sure, they're enjoyable and fun. But if you're as big of a fan as the original as I am, then you're probably disappointed and aggravated as well, wishing that the inevitable part 4 would take Jumanji back to its roots and give us the fright-fest we deserve. I give the film a 2 out of 4.
© 2019 Nathan Jasper