Jumanji: The Next Level (2019). Film review of the gaming action blockbuster starring Dwayne Johnson

Film still in the desert of Jumanji The Next Level
Standard

Action/Adventure/Fantasy

star rating 3 out of 5 worth watching

Film review by Jason Day of Jumanji: The Next Level (2019), about a group of teenage friends who are sucked into a fantastical computer game. Starring Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black.

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Synopsis

The world’s most dangerous game returns and snatches young Spencer (Alex Woolf) who is down in the dumps after splitting with girlfriend Martha (Morgan Turner). Martha teams up with pals Fridge and Bethany to reclaim Spencer, but their heroic avatars (Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan) face new levels of excitement and danger in the land of Jumanji…and a few of their relatives are along for the ride, too.

Review, by @Reelreviewer

One of the abiding delights in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2016) were the very funny but never offensive jokes as the characters swapped bodies and even genders after being hurtled into the gaming universe.

The writers also knew when to draw a line under them so they didn’t monkey around with the flow of the story.

Not so for the sequel as at several points the movie judders to a halt for explanations about what characters are in what avatar body and why.

Black and Gillan switch bodies and then swap back again in a ‘fountain of transference’ that will have you frequently checking your watch.

Awkwafina is introduced as being Spencer and later turns into Danny DeVito.

Finally, Danny Glover becomes a horse, who doesn’t speak but whose whinnying has to be translated, ad nauseum.

A once smart idea very quickly over stays its welcome.

This does lead to another, secondary delight – Hollywood stars doing impressions of other Hollywood stars.

Johnson ‘doing’ Danny DeVito isn’t quite as good as The Rock sending up The Rock but Hart’s slowed down, methodical speech is close to Danny Glover and Awkwafina comes into her own – even with a stooped gait – as a crotchety DeVito who sounds more like Joan Rivers, but enjoyably so.

Best performance overall? Definitely DeVito…and he doesn’t even appear to be trying, in an almost oven-ready role.

The action sequences also seem a notch below what we had before, not quite as exciting but good enough.

The best? An ostrich stampede and buggy race across a desert.

So, not as much fun as you’d like, but it’s worth having a play.

PS – stay tuned for the closing credits sequence!

See the official website for more.

Cast & credits

Director: Jake Kasdan. 2hr 3mins/123mins. Hartbeat Productions/Matt Tolmach Productions/Seven Bucks Productions/Sony Pictures Entertainment. (12a).

Producers: Danny Garcia, Hiram Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, Jake Kasdan, Matt Tolmach.
Writers: Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg.
Camera: Gyula Pados.
Music: Henry Jackman.
Sets: Bill Brzeski.

Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Colin Hanks, Alex Woolf, Morgan Turner,

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