Jumanji: The Next Level Review

The last Jumanji film was a pleasant surprise. A reboot of a beloved childhood classic that not only paid its respects to its predecessor, but in some ways exceeded it, bringing a boatload of fresh adventure to a long-dormant title.

With a talented cast (and Dwayne Johnson) the new era of Jumanji seemed bright, so it was inevitable that a sequel was produced sooner rather than later, and here we are. A sequel with a fresh adventure, and added Danny DeVito. More films should add Danny DeVito, in my opinion.

Brought to us by the same writer/director as last time, Jake Kasdan, can this new life be a long one? Or was it just a one-hit comeback?

Story

An insecure Spencer (Alex Wolff) seeks a confidence boost, to do so he re-enters the Jumanji game, hoping to embody the character Smoulder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) who gave him confidence in the first place; fearing him lost for good, his friends follow him, unknowingly taking Spencer’s grandfather with them…

Verdict

You know, I’m of the opinion that there can be many types of films for many different appetites. In the same way I wouldn’t expect a salmon to climb a tree, I wouldn’t expect Jumanji to be The Godfather.

Sometimes, a film can just be there as an entertaining way of killing a few hours; even within this there is different levels of quality, and I’d say this film and its predecessor rank pretty highly in those stakes.

It isn’t exactly a cinematic classic, I highly doubt it’ll get a Criterion Collection release, for example, but not all films need to be that, some just need to be a bloody good time, and that’s exactly what this is. A competently put together, well-paced and exciting adventure, with enough character to keep us interested and enough plot developments as to not make it boring.

It’s so very well polished in that typical big studio way, but it still manages to maintain a level of creativity, not a massive amount you understand, admittedly some of it might seem a bit familiar if you’ve re-watched Welcome to the Jungle recently, especially in areas of the plot, but as I say, it’s the characters that seal this film.

I know I often take jabs at Dwayne Johnson on here, but it’s honestly in good faith. I don’t dislike him at all, I think he’s incredibly charismatic, and for all intents and purposes seems like a cool dude, my issue is merely how he seems to have the range of a bow with no string. He only ever seems to play himself, but he’s one of the highest-grossing actors in the world, so what do I know?

In all fairness to DJ, this is probably the most I’ve enjoyed him on screen, especially the sections where he’s being controlled by Danny DeVito’s character, watching someone like The Rock acting like Danny DeVito is, fair play to them, hilarious, as is watching Kevin Hart act like Danny Glover.

All of this fish-out-of-water comedy is very well-balanced with some creative CG action, with a seeming knack for animal-based chase scenes. Elsewhere the plot is thin, an excuse to string together the body comedy and the action, it’s there, that’s the best we can say about it.

As I say, sometimes as a film critic, you have to step back and admire a film for just being a fun adventure, even if it’s not particularly deep, it serves its purpose, holds your attention, makes you laugh while it’s there and makes sense. Sometimes all a film has to be is fun, that’s fine, and for what it’s worth Jumanji 3 is fun, bags of fun, a fun little adventure with interesting, funny characters, it’s all what it promised to be, and we can’t judge it as anything else.

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