The Reel Review
Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan are all back in this sequel to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, about a group of teens trapped inside a video game, which they must win in order to return to reality. This sequel, which has the prior film’s teens headed back into the game, smartly features some fun new twists, new exotic locales and new characters played by Danny DeVito, Danny Glover and Awkwafina.
The story has much of the same breezy charm and silliness of the prior Jumanji film, meaning the contrived story is pretty much an afterthought to the main goal of this film, which is get laughs. And it does, but more so if you have seen the prior film beforehand. The CGI action scenes – in particular the one with the spinning rope bridges and attacking mandrills – is intensely fun, along with the unexpected ways characters (with their three lives each) are repeatedly killed off – co-writer/director Jack Kasdan definitely has a lot more fun with that element in this film. Despite that, this sequel does sorely lack the snappier pacing of Welcome to the Jungle, dragging on at times.
Of the cast, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Awkwafina are the standouts, best channeling the idiosyncrasies of the characters assuming their avatars. Karen Gillan is great with the action, while Dwayne Johnson shows he’s good at playing one character – Dwayne Johnson. The nod to Game of Thrones – including the casting of Rory McCann, who played The Hound in the HBO series – is a nice touch. While not quite as good as its predecessor, Jumanji:The Next Level is still light-hearted fun.
• Rory McCann (Game of Thrones, Hot Fuzz) is 6’6. Kevin Hart is 5’4, and Danny DeVito 4’10.
• In 2017, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle hit theaters around the same time as Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Two years later, Jumanji: The Next Level is premiering around the same time as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
• This marks the first collaboration between Danny DeVito and Danny Glover since 2010’s I’m Still Here.