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Movie Review: “Jumanji: The Next Level”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 12/13/2019

Theatrical Release: 12/13/2019

Synopsis

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 it pulls people from the real-world into the game. There are deadly challenges and threats around every corner, but the only way out is to finish the game. Players have three lives, but if they lose all three, then they die in the real world. 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 becoming Dr. Bravestone again, so he tries to fix the now broken game, and he ends up getting sucked into it 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 his 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 they playing a harder level than last time around.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Impersonations (+6pts)

Spencer’s Plan (-2pts)

Milo & Eddie (+6pts)

Bethany (-2pts)

Jumanji (+8pts)

Lives & The Ending (-4pts)

movie-review-jumanji-the-next-level

Pro: The Impersonations (+6pts)

This was 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 was fine, but they also had a much more effective idea for switching things up. They pulled in Spencer’s grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) and Eddie’s friend Milo (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 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 throughout the movie and the impressions from Karen Gillan, Jack Black, and Awkwafina were pretty entertaining as well. Still, 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.

movie-review-jumanji-the-next-level

Con: Spencer’s Plan (-2pts)

I get that Spencer enjoyed getting to play as Dr. Bravestone, but I did not buy that he was 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. Even then, I really did not understand what his plan was in entering the game by himself. He would have known that he could not have beaten the game alone, 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 was a minor part of the movie, but it was the motivations behind the act that kicked off this entire story, and I thought the filmmakers could have done a much better job of fleshing it all out.

movie-review-jumanji-the-next-level

Pro: Milo & Eddie (+6pts)

I liked these two characters for a few reasons. The first was that they made for some really 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 anyone from a much older generation, then you know that it can be a daunting task. Eddie and Milo were 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 it made for an interesting extra challenge for the younger characters to have to overcome. I also really enjoyed the character development that these two characters got. Eddie and Milo had known each other for almost all of their lives, and they had history. Eddie was still mad at Milo at the beginning of the story, and it was mostly a mystery as to why. Throughout the movie we then learned about these characters' history, and I liked the development that this relationship got from that. 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 these two characters’ stories as much as I did.

movie-review-jumanji-the-next-level

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 was a minor issue, but it was 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—or the could have just made another avatar.

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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 it quickly went to new places and it opened up the world of Jumanji on a massive scale. The story took us to the desert, to snowy mountains, and it required the protagonists to have to cross a dangerously worn and violent monkey infested bridge. With all of that and so much more, the filmmakers clearly wanted to take this movie up a notch from the last one, and I thought 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 sequel, one that could be more in line with the original Jumanji movie.

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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 as fast as possible. Rather than use the deaths to show the escalating danger throughout this level, the filmmakers made the characters burn through their extra lives through silly mistakes. By the climax of the movie, each character only had one life left, and this made the ending feel too easy, as a number of characters were able to get through what should have been the hardest part of the level without losing a life.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

movie-review-jumanji-the-next-level

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 even more excited when I saw that Dwayne Johnson would be doing an impression of Danny DeVito, and that 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 pulled it off.

The movie had a few minor plot related issues with respect to Spencer's plan, how the filmmakers used the multiple lives, and how convenient the ending was for the protagonists. That being said, I still had a good time with this movie. The impressions were a blast, the relationship between Eddie and Milo was both entertaining and interesting, and this next level of Jumanji provided a lot more variety than the last one, which let the audience explore more of this world. It was a really fun adventure movie with plenty of comedy, plenty of action, entertaining characters, and it left me excited for potential sequels.

Comments

Movie Beasts (author) from MA on February 13, 2020:

Hey Liza,

I would wait to rent it, unless you are absolutely dying to see it, and do not mind putting in the extra $$ to buy it. The second one was pretty good, and I would say it was comparable to the last movie (though not quite at the level of the original with Robin Williams).

Based on how this movie ended, I think they will definitely make a third movie.

Thanks for the comment!

Liza from USA on February 13, 2020:

I like the first one but, missed watching the second at the movie theater. I heard it wasn't good compared to the first one. So, I might be buying the digital soon so my family can watch it at home. Obviously, my favorite is the one with Robin Williams. Do you think they will make the third?

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