Usually, sequels of successful Hollywood films aren’t able to better the original but Jumanji: The Next Level takes the word sequel to the next level, literally. With a returning cast featuring Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gil

Usually, sequels of successful Hollywood films aren’t able to better the original but Jumanji: The Next Level takes the word sequel to the next level, literally. With a returning cast featuring Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan, and two new members who are industry veterans, the sequel is as entertaining as the first part, if not more. Director Jake Kasdan returns as well to do a brilliant job and kept the audience glued to their seats for the film’s entire run. What’s different this time around is that some of the characters have new powers, some have new avatars and some are locked out of the game for no reason. Yet they all team up to save one of their own, and Jumanji so that they can return to their own world and be their own selves.

The Plot

The flick revolves around a trip to Jumanji, the game that changes the participants’ avatar and gives them powers to achieve the impossible. Martha (Morgan Turner), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), and Bethany (Madison Iseman) are left with no choice when they find out that Spencer (Alex Wolff) went back inside the game to escape his sad, depressing life. What they don’t realize is that two more people in the vicinity got sucked into the game and changed the equation. Instead of Spencer, his Grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito) ends up as Dr. Bravestone (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and his friend Milo (Danny Glover) becomes Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hurt). With their newfound avatars of the muscleman and the zoologist, the oldies act as if they have gotten a new lease of life and that makes both Professor Oberon and Ruby Roundhouse (Jack Black and Karen Gillan respectively) very concerned. Why? Because Jumanji is still in danger and they must find Spencer before it’s too late.

The Good

For those who know about Jumanji, this film was always going to be interesting. However, the introduction of veterans Danny DeVito and Danny Glover was a masterstroke that took the audience by surprise. When the two grandpas got sucked in the game, they landed in the avatars that looked like Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. What made it all the more interesting was the fact that Dwayne Johnson was not as perfect as Dr. Bravestone but as imperfect as Grandpa Eddy (Danny DeVito), while Kevin Hart walked, talked and fought like Milo (Danny Glover), which was not what the team was ready for. Yes, there are instances where the smoldering intensity was displayed but they are far less this time around because someone else was in Dr. Bravestone’s body and he took time to get used to the superpower. Jack Black was the wise man in the group, not because he was mature but because the others weren’t, while Karen Gillan kicked ass wherever she could. The addition of Awkwafina changed the scenario and helped making sequel surprisingly funnier.

The Bad

Although Jumanji: The Next Level is a film for the younger audience, some of the dialogues could have been written keeping in mind the audience’s age or removed altogether from the final draft. The reference to body parts as well as some swearing doesn’t end up well with parents who want to take their kids for an experience they would cherish later in life. Some of the scenes such as the one where the gang escapes from mandrills at a series of revolving bridges could have been made better as it looks loaded with too many Special Effects. And then there was the villain who no one remembers after exiting the theatre. The bad guys and his cronies weren’t as big as in the last installment and that remained the film’s weakest link. The post-credit sequence also left a question in the audience’s mind and should be answered sooner than later.

The Verdict 3.5/5

While the first Jumanji brought together four high schoolers from different backgrounds together, the second one gave two estranged friends a chance to relive as a team and realize that together, they were the best. There could have been no better choice than Jake Kasdan to direct the film; be it the twists in the tale or the switch in the characters, he handled everything like a pro, making the audience wonder what will happen next, despite knowing that all will end well. Every actor kept the audience entertained with their one-liners, their wit and their strengths (and sometimes weaknesses). The visual effects were striking and complimented the dialogues that were both entertaining and informative. Yes, the villain wasn’t impressive but when the heroes get the job done despite hardships and losses, who are we to complain. Gear up for the trip to Jumanji, and take the world next level to new heights!

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