We’re sure we weren’t the only ones to produce a deep, audible sigh at the news of a reboot/sequel to 1995’s beloved Jumanji, but the 2017 film was a surprise joy and its sequel Jumanji: The Next Level keeps the surprises coming.
This is a sequel that manages to both stick to the great things that made the first movie fun (body-switching jokes, epic fight sequences, charismatic cast) and adds a fresh take (bigger world-building and inspired additional casting with Danny Glover, Danny DeVito and Awkwafina).
Taking place three years after the first film, the four original teenagers (now college students) are again trapped in the Jumanji game but this time they have been joined by lovable old dud Milo and irritable grandpa Eddie. This time around, they’ve been tasked with procuring a precious gem from Rory McCann’s (Game Of Thrones) nasty Jurgen the Brutal and on the way face untold (and hilarious) dangers such as aggressive emus and angry new partners of ex-girlfriends.
Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black are back but this time they all are inhabiting different avatars, not least with Johnson now being inhabited by grumpy DeVito and Hart by a dithering Glover. The charisma between both DeVito and Glover (though in reality, they get little screen time) and Johnson and Hart bring both hilarity and heart, and though Black and Gillan don’t have quite as much to do this time around they still have some hilarious moments and are very much needed to bring everything together. Awkwafina is also a welcome addition playing a world-class thief, bringing an extra layer of complexity to proceedings.
The plot, the characters and the cast are excitable and compelling, and director Jake Kasdan does well to keep the whole thing succinct and engaging, throwing banter, self-knowing nods and action at the audience for the entire 123 minutes. Jumanji: The Next Level really is an apt name because this sequel takes all the things we enjoyed about the original and ramps them up a notch.
Jumanji: The Next Level is available digitally on 4 April, and on 4K Ultra HD™ and Blu-ray on 13 April