Second Quest | 'Jumanji: The Next Level' Movie Review

A few months ago, I reviewed the 2017 reboot of “Jumanji” for the site. I thought it was a fun movie and did the job of introducing a new generation to the story with a more contemporary spin. Even as someone who never saw the original movie with Robin Williams, it brought an interesting take for the site. I’ve also been excited for this movie after seeing the ads. So, does this sequel hold up?

Set a year after the last movie, the gang comes together for the holidays after going their separate ways. Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Martha (Morgan Turner), and Bethany (Madison Iseman) meet, with Spencer (Alex Wolff). The trio check in on Spencer’s grandpa, Eddie (Danny DeVito) and meet his old friend and business partner, Milo (Danny Glover). They learn that Spencer got Jumanji to work again and go in to save him. While Martha takes Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), there is a change with Eddie taking control of the dashing Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Milo as “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart), and Fridge as Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), and Spencer being found later on as the cat burglar Ming Fleetfoot (Awkwafina). Nigel Billingsley (Rhys Darby) tells the gang to reclaim the Falcon’s Heart from Jurgen the Brutal (Rory McCann).

The cast for the kids in real-life is slightly better here than they were in the last movie, with Alex Wolff giving a solid performance with the screen-time he has. Watching these kids, you get the feeling that they’ve been friends since high school. Danny DeVito and Danny Glover are also a welcomed addition to the cast, with banter that feels at times like a rhetorical game of tennis. But like the last movie, it’s the avatar characters that make this movie. And seeing The Rock and Kevin Hart play old guys is a joy to watch. Jack Black is a lot better in here, with the contrast of a jock being in the body of an overweight cartographer. Awkwafina is also a welcome addition to the cast, adding a spark. Karen Gillan is just as solid as she was in the last film.

Despite the slow start, the movie plays off with a similar pace with a few bumps in the road and some fresh ideas added to the movie. While having Glover and DeVito take two of the characters made for some interesting moments, some of the explanation of gaming logic grew old and reminiscent of explaining technology to your grandparents. There’s also a glitch with water sources that allow for the gang to switch characters. And while it made for a good scene, it could’ve made for some good combinations. But aside from that, the action scenes were solid and played of the cast’s strengths. Some of the action sequences also made the movie and upped the stakes than the last one did.

Like the last movie, this is one of those movies where the main appeal comes from the cast. Everyone gives a solid performance and legitimately seems like their having fun with the whole thing. Some of the plot elements could have been applied better and the shake-up from the last movie is brought to the status quo. But despite these issues, the action sequences are compelling, and the actors really make this movie.

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