All of your favorite characters are back! …Well, kind of.
Jumanji: The Next Level is the continuation of the surprise smash hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, wherein four teenagers get sucked into a video game and inhabit the bodies of adventurers trying to work together and not die.
The beauty of the first film was how each of those teenagers inhabited avatars that where quite their visual opposites. Dwayne Johnson played the brainy geek, the stunning Karen Gillan played the shy girl, the lovable Kevin Heart played the tall jock, and the amazing Jack Black was the beautiful popular girl. Add Nick Jonas playing the “man out of time” for good taste, and you’ve got a great comedic cocktail.
At the end of the first movie, the teenagers, who our stars are playing, form a tight bond and learn something from being someone else… and not dying. To add new levels of awkward and humor in The Next Level, they mixed up the character details and added new levels of post-high school angst.
Now, the avatars have been switched, and we get to see Dwayne Johnson play Danny DeVito, Kevin Heart plays Danny Glover, Karen Gillan still plays the geeky girl, but Jack Black is now the tall jock. Joined later by Nick Jonas playing the “dad out of time,” Awkwafina as the geeky boy, and… a horse.
Since seeing her in Crazy Rich Asians, I am a fan of Awkwafina, but I felt like she really didn’t get a chance to stand out. Nick Jonas was just kind of there, and the whole emotional plot now revolves around Danny DeVito and Danny Glover’s characters’ broken friendship. It wasn’t very compelling. I guess the plot was weak to allow for the characters to interact? The problem, though, with the whole film was that it was so character busy that I didn’t really think anyone got a real chance to settle in.
I was a huge fan of the first film and was very excited about this next one. I walked out Jumanji: The Next Level thinking I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars, but as I think about it, I would rather take it down to a 3 out of 5 stars. All the changes were novel at first, but after a few minutes, I was ready for everyone to switch back. It wasn’t as good as the first, but in the end, I still smiled, enjoyed the ride, and enjoyed my time at the movies.