More Players, New Level

Name: Jumanji: The Next Level
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Year: 2019

Jumanji hits our screens again with the next level of fantasy, action and adventure. With a superb cast a great mixture of comedy, a touch of romance and real-life lessons about bravery, friendship and empathy.

At the end of the last film, the four high school students escaped Jumanji alive. After completing the game in their heroic characters, some obviously stronger than others, they destroyed the game to ensure no one will ever return to the dangerous world of Jumanji. But the movie made a lot of money, so why not rebuilt the broken console, get it operational again, teaming up now the college-age kids are joined by a couple of old-school characters.

Spencer (Alex Wolff) is now a freshman at New York University. He has been finding life hard and miserable when he sees the original gangs adventures on instagram. His romance with Martha (Morgan Turner) hasn’t proven easy as the long-distance forced them to go on a break. Spencer returns home for Christmas and finds that his grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) has moved in with his mother after his hip surgery. Eddie’s alienated former business partner Milo (Danny Glover) comes over to try and mend the friendship, but Eddie is stubborn and won’t listen.

In the meantime, Spencer and his friends make a plan to meet up for brunch, but Spencer misses the confidence he once felt playing the video game avatar Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson). He decides to try and reassemble the broken console, to take on life and death challenges, instead of dealing with real life. A perfect message of escapism. When he doesn’t show up at brunch Martha, Bethany (Madison Iseman) and Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) goes into the game to rescue him. But not all goes to plan and Jumanji throws them a twist, they’re not in the same characters as before – well most of them. Martha returns to her fighting expert Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), Eddie shows up as Dr. Bravestone, Milo is backpack king Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart) and Fridge becomes the chubby map reader Dr. Shelly Oberon (Jack Black). Bethany doesn’t get sucked into the game and must find another way to help her friends.

The comedy level of this film instantly rockets with the original team trying to explain and teach the new older characters where they are and what needs to be done next. Many lives are used up doing so. Martha and Fridge assumed it would be the same mission as the first time they submerged themselves into Jumanji, but like any video game they return to a harder and more deadly level. Instead of the lethal jungle, the sequel take us into the heart of the desert and to a castle on a icy mountaintop.

The action in this film is nonstop with dune buggy chases, rope bridge puzzles and assault courses and tomb raider style parkour. The new mission is to collect a jewel that the new villain Jurgan the Brutal (Rory McCann) stole from the gentle native farmers.

Eventually Bethany and Alex (Colin Hanks), the saved character from the first film, shows up in the game. Alex is back in his previous avatar, Seaplane (Nick Jonas), but Bethany and Spencer are whole new characters. I won’t go into details about the new characters because SPOILERS!!

But the most fun of this film comes when they find the ability to swap avatars. The script work in a extremely creative way cycling through different ages, race and gender. Johnson was amazing as Spencer in the first film, a funny version of a boy becoming a man. But this time, Johnson shows the cranky grandfather and can tell is having more fun doing so. He doesn’t get the concept of being in a video game, his overwhelming happiness of feeling young and powerful is shown amazingly. It isn’t displayed as cheesy or corny of an older man trying to be young. The Johnson’s Spencer dynamic was completely different; Eddie has lived his bucket list of youth, while Spencer used the avatar as something to aspire to in the future.

Another old/ young dynamic was Hart. Hart in the pervious film was quick talking and excitable showing the persona of the youth playing his avatar. But this time Milo is playing and the confused slow-talking persona is shown. This added a great automatic humour to any scenes they were in, especially when the team depending on Milo to give them facts about animals in a quick manner.

This Jumanji films shows a fantasy world, with assigned alter ego avatars with strengths and weaknesses. These avatars allow the characters to deliver a very important underlining message. The characters learn to be honest with themselves and others to find fulfillment.

The Jumanji films deliver a perfect balance of humor and excitement without falling too deep into scary or silly, focusing on friendship instead of romance. This time around, there is a touch of sadness that makes the message of friendship even more meaningful. This may not be the last we see of Jumanji with the end hinting to another deadly level. We are not ready for Jumanji to have it’s final Game Over just yet.

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