Jumanji: The Next Level Review. Another Fun Time at the Movies.

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Funny story.
As I was sitting through the first twenty minutes of Jumanji: The Next Level, an audience member in the row in front of me turned to the guy next to him and asked, “hey, this is Jumanji, right?”
He must not have seen the first film and not realised that the teenage characters would become the video game ones so thought he wandered into the wrong movie.
In any case, I’m sure the guy was glad not have walked out because of this mistake because Jumanji: The Next Level is a good time that is about on par with the first film.

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The Next Level is just as good as Welcome to the Jungle.

Directed again by Jack Kasdan, the sequel continues to follow the adventures of Spencer (Alex Wolff), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Martha (Morgan Turner) and Bethany (Madison Iseman) after Spencer goes into the game willingly and the others mount a rescue.
Unfortunately for them, the busted state they left the game in leads to some unforeseen consequences, most prominent of which is Spencer’s grandfather, Eddie, and his estranged friend, Milo, also being sucked into the game.
Taking on the roles of their Avatars, Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart), Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), and Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black), the characters set off to rescue Spencer and save Jumanji again.
One of the things I really enjoyed about the film was how it went in new directions to shape the story.
Rather than a retread of the first movie, Jumanji: The Next Level tries different things, resulting in various hilarious scenarios.
The best of these is definitely Johnson and Hart playing elderly men stuck in heroic video game characters’ bodies.
This results both in many fantastic comedic moments and also a lot of growth for the two characters of Eddie and Milo.
These two elements combine with a joke at the end of the film that left me howling with laughter.

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There are so many great gags with Eddie and Milo being stuck in their Avatars’ bodies.

Another improvement from the first movie is the villain, who this time is Jurgen the Brutal (Rory McCann).
In Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the villain was very forgettable to the point that I can’t even remember his name.
Granted, Jurgen is not much better here but the film knows this because, with the exception of the game cut scene that introduces him as the threat, it only places Jurgen in scenes with the characters.
The villain of the first film had entire scenes to himself that did not work, so only placing Jurgen in scenes with our main characters is for the better.
What is not for the better is some of the directions the story takes.
Like I said, I do like a lot of the new routes that are taken in this film but there are a few that just don’t work.
The biggest example of these is a storyline involving a horse that ends with revolving a character’s arc poorly.
I honestly imagined this character’s story ending another way after the movie was over and I thought it was way better.

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The horse storyline is definitely the weakest of the film.

But, despite this problem, I still find the film to be a solid sequel that people will have fun with.
Jumanji: The Next Level is an enjoyable film that makes for a fun time at the movies.

Jumaji: Welcome to the Jungle is an enjoyable comedy… just don’t watch the trailers.

3 and a half stars
Jumaji: Welcome to the Jungle was a film I was looking forward to seeing since I first saw the trailers.
Directed by Jake Kasdan, The film looked funny and inventive and I wanted to see how good it was.
However, because of how busy I have been over the Holidays, I did not go to see it until very recently.
Still, were my expectations meet?
Yes… I just wish I had not watched the trailers.
If you want to watch Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, please, do not watch the trailers because 90% of the jokes from the first half of the movie are in those trailers.
I knew what I was watching was funny but it was certainly much less enjoyable because I knew the jokes were coming.
My viewing experience would have been so much better if I had not watched them.
But, aside from that, the film is pretty enjoyable.
The plot of the film is that, 20 years after the first movie, four teenagers stumble across Jumanji, which has transformed into a video game.
They start playing but are sent into the game into the bodies of the characters they were playing as, Dr Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Shelly Oberon, (Jack Black) Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart) and Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan).
They must then complete the game if they want to escape Jumanji, without losing all three lives or it is game over.
The film definitely has fun with its concept, with so many inside jokes for video gamers, but it the funniest parts of the movie are the characters themselves.
Watching a teenage nerd inside the body of Dwayne Johnson is very funny.

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Dwayne Johnson is funny as a teenage boy stuck in a heroic adventurer’s body.

Best of all though is Bethany in the body of Jack Black’s Shelly Oberon.
Watching a beautiful, popular girl in an “overweight middle aged man’s” body led to some very funny scenarios.
The ending of the film, for me, was a highlight because of how the characters had grown through the story and the results of that.
It is not all good though because the film does have its problems.
There were some interesting areas of conflict that the film did not really go in depth with when they could have.
Also, up until the characters are transported into Jumanji, the film was not very funny and the jokes fell flat.
Then there is the villain.
He is one dimensional, boring and, since we know he is just a video game character and not a real person, he does not hold much investment.
This could be an inside joke about how one dimensional a lot of video game villains are but if it is, once again, they do not go all the way with this idea.

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Bobby Cannavale as Russel Van Pelt, the villain of the movie.

Honestly, I do not think the film needed a villain.
They could have just had the characters be attacked by random animals and bad guys and it would have played out pretty much the same.
But, even with these problems, the film is still enjoyable.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a fun time that will leave you laughing… if you have not watched the trailers.