Nothing New in Store: ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ Review


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With a $125 million budget, Jumanji: The Next Level found success at the box office, grossing $737 million dollars internationally, according to IMDb Pro. Forbes magazine commented that “Jumanji: The Next Level” is a “rare example of a B-level property being revamped into an A-level blockbuster success.”

Ki Joon Lee, Co-Sports Editor

The same four teenagers once again embark on a journey through the exhilarating video game world in “Jumanji: The Next Level,” which entered the box office on Dec. 13, 2019 and saw opening night rake in a remarkable $60.1 million, according to Forbes.

Most of the humor in the movie brings out a decent chuckle throughout its two-hour running time, but returning audience members expecting a “new level” of adventure will not see any fresh or creative concepts that differentiate this new release from its predecessor.

The franchise revisits the success formula of its previous installment “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” a Hollywood all-star cast line-up of Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson. Each fittingly portrays the souls of normal high school students trapped inside an avatar body contradictory to their personality.

Although the film revolves around the same laughing points, it does introduce the bantering yet heartwarming interactions between the elderly newcomers to Jumanji: Danny Devito and Danny Glover respectively playing Eddie and Milo, former restaurateur partners who split paths after retirement. As the duo slowly reconciles toward understanding each other, the movie presents a packed emotional punch about time and friendship.

A major problem with the plot, however, is its overuse of the soul-switching mechanism—magical waters that allow players to change avatars—as convenient explanations of the characters’ advancement to the final battle, resulting in a disorganized story arc that seems to divide and sectionalize the fellowship rather than uniting it. Comedic moments, like one particularly hilarious scene between’Black and Hart, are used to divert the attention of the audience from the plot oddities, making the film feel funny yet disorganized in the end.

Ultimately, the performances by the actors are the biggest selling points of the movie, not the storyline. Hart, an actor famous for his spitfire comedic punchlines, surprisingly does an excellent job impersonating the slow and composed talking style of Glover’s Milo, and the ironic contrast delivers good laughs. Another scene-stealer is Awkwafina, a comedic expert making her entrance into the Jumanji franchise; her versatility particularly shonein her portrayal of insecure teen protagonist Spencer and his grumpy grandfather Eddie each controlling the avatar Ming Fleetfoot.

Despite its fulfillment as a lighthearted and mildly hilarious comedy, Jumanji: The Next Level fell short of its potential to open a new stage of courageous adventures. With the post-credits scene and Johnson’s hinting remarks in an interview, we could place our bets on the next franchise sequel to tap unexplored territory in the world of Jumanji and truly bring something new to the audience.