Jumani - The Next Level a pretty good follow-up
EXCLUSIVE FILM REVIEW:JUMANJI – THE NEXT LEVEL (12A), SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW
CAST: DWAYNE JOHNSON, KAREN GILLAN, KEVIN HART, JACK BLACK, NICK JONAS, DANNY DeVITO, AWKWAFINA, ALEX WOLFF, DANNY GLOVER, RORY McCANN, MORGAN TURNER, SER’DARIUS BLAIN, MADISON ISEMAN, COLIN HANKS, RHYS DARBY, DANIA RAMIREZ & BEBE NEUWIRTH
RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 3 MINS, DIRECTOR: JAKE KASDAN
Two weeks ago my review of Frozen II described how that was another solidly enjoyable effort that came in a ‘shade’ below the original – well this sequel to 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is exactly the same.
Which is basically to say it’s a pretty darn good follow-up.
Just as funny, just as action-packed, but just maybe a tad clunkier – and lacking the surprise value from two years ago.
Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Nick Jonas all return to the world of Jumanji in their avatar guises, after a depressed Spencer (Alex Wolff) – who unbeknown to his friends kept the pieces of the game and repaired the system – gets sucked back into a new version of the game.
And when his ex-flame Martha (Morgan Turner) and pals, ‘Fridge’ (Ser’Daruius Blain) and Bethany (Madison Iseman), realise he’s disappeared, they dive back in to save him.
But this time there’s a twist. Spencer’s Grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito) and estranged friend Milo (Danny Glover) are also in the house when they get sucked back in, and they do too, meaning all the avatars get mixed up from last time – bar Martha who remains in the body of Gillan’s commando Ruby Roundhouse.
Eddie ends up as the avatar of Johnson’s Dr Smolder Bravestone, Milo embodies Hart’s zoologist Franklin ‘Mouse’ Finbar, and Fridge switches from Mouse to inhabit the body of Black’s archaeologist Sheldon ‘Shelly’ Oberon – much to his chagrin.
And this makes for an interesting dynamic, as the side story between squabbling ex-business partners Eddie and Milo constantly runs alongside them trying to locate Spencer – who has ended up as the avatar of Awkwafina’s (Ocean’s 8) thief Ming Fleetfoot.
The main villain – Game of Thrones’ Rory McCann starring as ruthless warlord Jurgen the Brutal – is more generically uninspiring this time round, but with new ‘strengths’ and ‘weaknesses’ of the characters presenting room for inspired comedic opportunities, it all comes together to provide another enjoyable slice of family fun.
Fears of the Eddie/Milo sub-plot – which initially starts off as ‘seen it all before’ annoyance – slowly unfolds into something that is charmingly pivotal to the plot, and the gang once again – from the youngsters, to the Hollywood stars, and screen legends – show a chemistry that makes this third film in the Jumanji pantheon another endearing experience.
And alongside Star Wars and Frozen gives another solid family-friendly Christmas option that in video game terms ends up being more a commendable ‘add-on’ – than exactly taking it to the next level.
By Gavin Miller
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