JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL (2019) – My rating: 7/10

Jumanji: The Next Level is a fantasy adventure comedy directed by Jake Kasdan, and co-written by Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg. It is the sequel to 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and the second follow-up to 1995’s Jumanji, and is the fourth installment in the Jumanji franchise. The film’s plot takes place three years after Welcome to the Jungle, in which the same group of teenagers, along with an old friend and two unwitting additions, become trapped in Jumanji, where they all find themselves facing new problems and challenges with both old and new avatars, while also having to save the land from a new villain in order to escape. I waited to see this sequel because I didn’t think it would be very good. The film leaned more toward being good than bad.

It’s now 2019, two years after their adventure in Jumanji. Spencer Gilpin (Alex Wolff), Anthony “Fridge” Johnson (Ser’Darius Blain), Martha Kaply (Morgan Turner), and Bethany Walker (Madison Iseman) are leading different lives but plan a reunion brunch in Brantford, New Hampshire.  Due to depression, Spencer is apprehensive about the meeting and contemplates returning to Jumanji where he felt he had a reason for being. He ends up blowing off the brunch and spends his first night trying to fix the broken video-game system he held on to. The following day Spencer’s friends visited his home and met his grandfather Eddie (Danny De Vito), who is recovering from hip surgery. They also met Eddie’s former friend and business partner, Milo Walker (Danny Glover), who was visiting Eddie for some unknown reason. Learning they had no idea where Spencer was, the group searched the house and found the Jumanji game partially repaired in the basement. Realizing Spencer returned to the game, his friends decide to follow.  So the fun began, starting with a faulty device, which complicated things right from the start.

Jumanji: The Next Level is as entertaining as it’s predecessor with a slightly more complex plot.  Personally, I favor Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle a little more but I was still entertained and enjoyed the movie.  Overall, I thought everyone did a fantastic job of portraying their characters, which got a little tricky. However,  in the end, “all’s well that ends well”.  As of February 23, 2020, Jumanji: The Next Level has grossed $784 million worldwide against a $125 million budget, becoming the tenth highest-grossing film of 2019. The film received generally positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 71% based on 221 reviews with an average rating of 6/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “Like many classic games, Jumanji: The Next Level retains core components of what came before while adding enough fresh bits to keep things playable.” Dwayne Johnson revealed in a December 2019 interview that another character in the world of Jumanji is an actual avatar, the villainous Jurgen the Brutal and that it would be explored in a potential sequel, which is currently in development. I recommend Jumanji: The Next Level to all — Check It Out!

 

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