Movie Review: “Jumanji: The Next Level”
Jumanji: The Next Level
Although he and his friends barely made it out of Jumanji alive, Spencer (Alex Wolff) has struggled to move on. The game is cursed, and pulls people from the real-world inside the game. There are deadly challenges and threats around every corner, but the only way out is to finish the game. You have three lives, but if you lose all three, then you die for real. Although playing the game again is a huge risk, Spencer got to play as Dr. Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) who is the type of person that Spencer wants to be in real life.
Dr. Bravestone is strong, he does not have asthma or allergies, he is brave, and he is a leader. Spencer wants to experience being Dr. Bravestone again, so he tries to fix the now broken game, and ends up getting sucked in once again. Knowing that Spencer is stuck in the game and that he cannot complete it by himself, his friends reluctantly enter the game to help him, but Spencer’s grandfather (Danny DeVito) and grandfather‘s friend (Danny Glover) get pulled in as well. Playing as Dr. Bravestone, Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart), Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), and Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), the group needs to find Spencer and complete the game. Unfortunately, they still each only have three lives, and are playing a harder level than their last time within the game.
The Pros & Cons
The Impersonations (+6pts)
Spencer’s Plan (-2pts)
Milo & Eddie (+6pts)
Lives & The Ending (-4pts)
Pro: The Impersonations (+6pts)
This was obviously a sequel, so the filmmakers needed to do something to prevent this premise from feeling stale or too familiar. They did this through putting the characters in a new level of the game, which is fine, but the filmmakers had a much more effective idea for switching things up. They pulled in Spencer’s grandfather Eddie, played by Danny DeVito, and Eddie’s friend Milo, played by Danny Glover. Both actors have such unique voices and their inclusion meant that a good portion of the movie consisted of Dwayne Johnson doing an impression of Danny DeVito and Kevin Hart doing an impression of Danny Glover.
Both actors did an excellent job with their respective parts, and it made for a lot of really unique and entertaining scenes. I will get into what I liked about the two characters of Eddie and Milo later in this review, but the impressions alone were really entertaining. On top of that, there were character swaps in this movie and the impressions from Karen Gillan, Jack Black, and Awkwafina were pretty entertaining as well. However, the impressions from Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson provided the movie with a lot of entertaining and memorable moments, and the two actors deserve a lot of credit for pulling their parts off so effectively.
Con: Spencer’s Plan (-2pts)
I get Spencer enjoying getting to play as Dr. Bravestone, but I do not buy that he would have been willing to risk his life by going back into Jumanji. However, for the sake of this section of the review, let us just assume that he would want to do that. I really do not understand what his plan was in entering the game by himself. He would have known that he could not have beaten the game by himself, and he would have had no reason to believe that his friends would show up. It also did not seem in character for him to want to stay in to Jumanji to live as Dr. Bravestone. It is a minor part of the movie, but is the action that kicks off all of the events of this story, and I think the filmmakers could have given Spencer's plan and motivations a bit more attention.
Pro: Milo & Eddie (+6pts)
I liked these two characters for a few reasons. The first was that they made way for some entertaining impressions, but I have already gone into that at length. The second reason was that having two old characters meant that the younger characters would have to explain to them how video games work. If you have played video games and have tried to explain those video games to any old person, you will know that it can be a daunting task. Eddie and Milo are basically the worst versions of this, so there were a lot of entertaining scenes that consisted of the younger characters trying to explain video games to them, and trying to keep them from getting themselves or others killed.
Eddie and Milo's lack of video game knowledge made for some entertaining moments, and made for an interesting extra challenge for the younger characters to have to overcome. However, I also really enjoyed the character development that these two characters got. Eddie and Milo have known each other for almost all of their lives, and they have history. Eddie is still mad at Milo at the beginning of the story, and it is mostly a mystery as to why. Throughout the movie we then learn about these characters' history, and I liked the development that this relationship got. I felt that these two characters were once great friends, and I felt that one felt betrayed and hurt by the other's actions. I went into this movie expecting to like the impressions, but I did not expect to like the character development of these two characters as much as I did.
Con: Bethany (-2pts)
The filmmakers could have handled this character better. They clearly wanted Eddie and Milo in the game, as a couple of the primary avatars (Dr. Bravestone, and Franklin Finbar). Spencer was already in the game and missing, but that left three of the main characters from the first movie (Bethany, Fridge, and Martha) and only two available avatars (Ruby Roundhouse, and Professor Shelly Oberon). The filmmakers' solution was to have Bethany simply not get sucked into the game, but this did not make any sense when considering where the characters were (and why Eddie and Milo both got sucked in when she did not). It is a minor issue, but one that easily could have been avoided by simply not having Bethany there when the other characters got pulled in, and instead could have just had her show up later.
Pro: Jumanji (+8pts)
I do not want to give any settings away, but this movie went to a lot of new locations. The last movie was set almost exclusively in the jungle. This movie started in the jungle, but went to the desert, went to snowy mountains, required the protagonists to have to cross a dangerously worn and violent monkey infested bridge, and more. The filmmakers clearly wanted to take this movie up a notch from the last one, and I think they succeeded. We got to explore a lot more of Jumanji in this movie, and it ended in a way that left me very excited for another potential sequel, which could be a lot more in line with the original Jumanji movie.
Con: Lives & The Ending (-4pts)
In the last movie, lives were used to make the adventure feel like a video game, while also giving the characters a sense of danger. In this movie, giving each character three lives felt like an inconvenience for the filmmakers. It felt like they wanted to get each character’s two extra lives out of the way. Rather than use the deaths to show the escalated danger throughout this level, therefore raising the stakes, the filmmakers made it so that the all characters were burning through their extra lives through silly mistakes. Then, by the film’s ending every character only had one life left, which just made the ending feel conveniently easy. In the last movie, the filmmakers creatively used the idea of extra lives. They had the opportunity to do it again in this movie, with having characters familiar with Jumanji, by using those extra lives to show how much more challenging this next level was. Instead, they used the lives for exclusively comedic purposes, which made the plot and the ending feel really convenient.
Grade: B+ (87pts)
I liked Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, so I was excited when I learned they were making a sequel. I was then more excited when I saw that Dwayne Johnson would be doing an impression of Danny DeVito, in addition to Kevin Hart doing an impression of Danny Glover. Sure, there was a possibility that the filmmakers would rely too heavily on this gimmick, but it was a funny enough concept and I liked the last movie, so I was more than willing to give this a shot. After having seen the movie, I can confidently say that the filmmakers did a really good job with this concept.
I had a few minor plot related issues, in relation to Spencer's plan, how the filmmakers used the multiple lives, and how convenient the ending was for the protagonists. That being said, I had a good time with this movie. The impressions were a blast, the relationship between Eddie and Milo was both entertaining and compelling, and this next level of Jumanji provided a lot more variety than the last movie which let the audience explore more of this world. It was a really fun adventure movie with plenty of comedy, strong and entertaining performances, and it left me excited for potential sequels.