Picking up a few years after the events of Welcome To The Jungle we find our original players coming together for the first time since they graduated from high school. Spencer (Alex Wolff) and Martha (Morgan Turner) have split up and Spencer finds himself in a rut that sees him separate himself from his friends.
Determined to try and put some spark back into his life Spencer begins to put the Jumanji game back together and places himself back in the world of the video game. When they discover that he is missing his friends decide to go into the game to rescue him but in doing so accidentally take Spencer’s grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his ex-best friend Milo (Danny Glover) with them. From there it is up to the team of Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), Dr Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart) and the Professor (Jack Black) to once again save Jumanji.
With so many franchises staying beyond their welcome these days I can imagine there are a few people out there who are rolling their eyes and thinking ‘oh no, not another one’ when it comes to Jumanji. The good news though is director/screenwriter Jake Kasdan once again finds new ways to bring a freshness to the franchise.
The inclusion of Danny DeVito and Danny Glover in the cast enhances this film in a way nobody could have predicted. As well as their character’s storyline adding a little bit more personal drama to the plot, seeing Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson have then to take on the characteristics of DeVito and Glover is absolutely priceless and shows both actors did have more range than many would have predicted. The same goes for Awkwafina who later has to carry the DeVito mantle and does it with brilliant comedic timing.
It is the comedy of Jumanji: The Next Level which also makes the film such a pleasure to watch. Kasdan seems to be able to mix genres throughout this film in a way that very few filmmakers can. Often a film that tries to mix comedy, drama and action would feel disjointed but here Kasdan can go from a scene of pure comedy between Johnson and Hart to an action sequence where all the characters’ lives are placed in danger and it seems just perfectly natural.
The big difference this time around is that the action scenes, excuse the pun, feel like they have gone to the next level. The ostrich attack and the monkey battle on swinging bridges are right up there as some of the best action sequences that you will see in cinemas this year and only further enhance the video game feel that the film portrays throughout.
As we mentioned earlier, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart steal the show as they try to mimic Danny DeVito and Danny Glover. Hart actually produces some of the best acting of his career as he portrays a character who feels like he owes his former best friend a lot but just can’t break away from his bad habit of over-explaining things. Credit must also be paid to Karen Gillan who is sensational when it comes to the action and fighting sequences throughout the film showing why she is one of the most underrated action stars going around.
It had taken nearly a year to get there but Jumanji: The Next Level is one of the most enjoyable action films to close out 2019. The film has the right mix of drama, comedy and action and contains one of the best ensemble casts we’ve seen on the big screen for a long time.
David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus