HOLLYWOOD─So I will be the first to say I was damn entertained by the 2017 remake of “Jumanji.” It was hilarious and just had a story that clicked. Now we all know in Hollywood if you strike magic at the box-office, you should be prepared for a sequel, and we now have “Jumanji: The Next Level.” So the question lingers rather this sequel outdoes the original. The answer is simple: no. However, it’s a not a bad movie, it just lacks the hilarity and the originality that the first movie delivered to audiences.
The biggest problem I have with “The Next Level” is the narrative is not easy at all to follow. There is a lot going on and plenty of paths that cross and intertwine, that if you’re not playing close attention, you will be lost. Not just with the story, but with the characters as well. Remember we’re dealing with players inside a video game and they have avatars, and this sequel plays with those avatars in a multitude of ways. It got so bad I just stopped trying to remember who was who and just focused on following the story as much as I possibly could.
We have the return of original players Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillian, Jack Black and Nick Jonas, as the videogame versions of our protagonists, but there isn’t much evolution in the characters in the sequel. We get the same ole and with any movie that introduces another story to the audience we expect to see the characters evolve and change over time. The banter between Johnson and Hart, who take on old, cantankerous gentlemen works in the beginning of the movie, but as time progresses, the ‘old’ jokes start to become old. The writers rely on repeating the same joke over and over again, so much to the point that it becomes tiresome and boring. The addition of Danny DeVito and Danny Glover as those old, wise, but cranky souls doesn’t elevate the film to new levels.
If there was one addition to the cast that makes it worthwhile, it’s Awkwafina, who runs circles around Hart and Johnson in the laughter department. For a sequel, that is expected to be bigger and better, the visuals excel, the advancements of the game are fun, but everything else fails to deliver. There is very little bonding between are original players, Spencer (Alex Gilpin), Martha (Morgan Turner), Anthony (Ser’Darius Blain) and Bethany (Madison Iseman). It is almost as if these characters are irrelevant because the movie focused primarily on their counterparts or shall I saw avatars.
While there are plenty of loopholes in this sequel, “Jumanji: The Next Level” is entertaining. If you can force yourself to escape the realm of reality and place yourself into this world that makes absolutely no sense you will indeed be entertained. While this installment in “Jumanji” is not as exciting as its predecessor, it gives the audience what they except, a fantasy world unlike any others, exciting visuals, but the same ole jokes.