Two years after the surprise success of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” the chaos begins again: Once again our friends are sucked into a dangerous video game. If JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL is just a tired rehash, we reveal in our review.
In the second part, the crew travels through the snow and desert.
The plot summary
After the tumultuous events of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” the lives of Spencer (Alex Wolff), Bethany (Madison Iseman), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) and Martha (Morgan Turner) have changed enormously – and the shy Spencer arrives not clear at all. And so it happens that one night he tries to reactivate the cursed Jumanji game that has put him and his friends in mortal danger, but also brought him together in the first place. It succeeds: Spencer is sucked back into his adventure world by the game. Spencer’s friends then set out to free him from this situation. But they discover that nothing in Jumanji is as expected anymore. Players will have to overcome completely new challenges in previously unknown and unexplored areas. To escape the most dangerous game in the world, they must cross dry deserts and snow-capped mountains – and learn to come to terms with the fact that they are no longer who they once were…
Jumanji: The Next Level Movie Meaning & ending
In 2017 , “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” was a huge surprise: The loose sequel to the 1995 adventure film “Jumanji” started in the shadow of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and was therefore written off in advance by many industry insiders. Instead, the action-packed comedy starring Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan as video game avatars of four friends sucked into a cursed game grossed over $960 million. It became one of the biggest hits in the history of Sony Pictures – and was quickly recommended for a sequel. “Jumanji: The Next Level” is now much more closely aligned with its predecessor than it was with the first entry in the series: for the second time, it’s all about a video game that you get sucked into (the original was about a board game that becomes reality becomes). And not only that: the characters from “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” also return – inside and outside the world of the titular game. On the surface, this poses the risk that there will be too few innovations and that the concept that allows for creative developments will not be fully exploited. But far from it.
The avatars, embodied by Kevin Hart, Karen Gillen, Jack Black and Dwayne Johnson.
If you dig deeper, it becomes clear that through this iteration, writers Jake Kasdan (who is also the film’s director), Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg have found a way to get more emotionally out of the material than would have been possible with another loose sequel . Because “Jumanji: The Next Level” takes as its narrative starting point the fact that its main characters became friends when they were literally completely different people. The story begins about a year after the end of the predecessor. The former loner Fridge, who left his intellectual potential untapped, is now as well-read as he is sporty and a real team player. The former egocentric Bethany Walker became a Samaritan through her first trip into the video game world of Jumanji, and the quick-to-judge wallflower Martha discovered her open and self-confident side. In addition, she and the anxious Spencer became a couple – but after a few very beautiful and happy months of love, their relationship hit a rocky path. Now, however, Spencer’s courage, which he found in the body of the video game adventurer Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) has dried up again – and while his friends can’t wait to see each other again over the Christmas holidays, he has a longing for his time in Jumanji.
Kasdan, Pinkner and Rosenberg use this plot thread to consistently develop the very simple “Wizard of Oz” concept of the predecessor (every character is missing something, but over the course of the adventure the group of heroes realizes that this missing part has always been lying dormant within them). A little more complex to execute: Spencer’s plot thread questions the “It’s always been in you” moral of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and takes our heroes on a turbulent, strange, jarring journey of exploration to find out how permanent their character change is the previous film is now. Based on this, “Jumanji: The Next Level” also deals with the age-defying question of how to deal with change. For Spencer’s friends, all the changes that have happened to them have been a benefit, but he struggles, believing that the change was too far beyond his control. There is undoubtedly a (post-)pubertal trepidation in this worry, but Kasdan and his writing partners know how to put Spencer’s worry into words in such a way that it doesn’t degenerate into a clichéd teenage ailment. They also find an approach to shape the fear of change into a universal theme of the film: The video game Jumanji is greedier than before and also devours Spencer’s grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his former best friend Milo (Danny Glover). The two of them have been at loggerheads since a crucial element in their daily interaction changed years ago, which Milo tries to get out of the way – but when it comes to the proud and grumpy Eddie, he bites the bullet.
In part two, Awkwafina also joins the cast.
As a big-budget adventure comedy for the whole family, which is primarily intended to accompany a fun holiday or weekend movie visit with soda and popcorn, “Jumanji: The Next Level” of course only occasionally tackles the worries and fears surrounding the topic of change literally, and this is more entertaining than in the form of existential fear turned into a film. But you don’t have to be an art house drama to still demonstrate a sensitive touch and find the right nerve: In contrast to many, many other popcorn films of the last few years, “Jumanji: The Next Level” succeeds; to express his emotional moments in a credible way. The characters do not slow down the plot and drop their previously introduced characteristics in order to hit the audience with the message in mnemonic sentences: The team of authors creates a consistent, credible voice for each of the characters and constantly demonstrates a feeling for when the heroes would open up and when they would beat around the bush. In this way, Kasdan, Pinkner and Rosenberg build an emotional framework for the adventure fun in “Jumanji: The Next Level”, through which the action scenes gain in height (even if some scenes clearly show their origin from the computer, it is easy to get excited because these characters grow on you) and the jokes become even funnier.
Because Kasdan, Pinkner and Rosenberg almost always joke along with their characters: very few gags in “Jumanji: The Next Level” are at the expense of all the heroes (and when that does happen, it’s the absurdity of the situation that makes you laugh ), usually you’re supposed to laugh with someone – sometimes at the impulsive grandfather, who is now fighting his way through a horde of enemies as an agile and strong adventurer, sometimes with the rest of the hero crew, who can’t believe how a member of the team is currently acting . Such dialogue jokes and situational comedy fireworks work much better when the characters are charming and you can feel the joy that the film team has with them. And when it comes to fun, “Jumanji: The Next Level” is a clear step up from its predecessor. Because the “being a different person” element is also creatively reflected in the gaming world: very few returnees from the predecessor are assigned the same characters in the world of Jumanji, and because more people are playing, new avatars are also being introduced. That means a veritable tidal wave of body-swapping silliness, fueled firstly by the cast’s intense fun and secondly by their thematic resonance – and then Kasdan and company continue to find playful ways to keep this element fresh.
The action scenes are only very sporadically tactile, but Kasdan knows how to pull off the video game gimmick and creates it together with stunt expert Wade Eastwood (“Mission: Impossible – Fallout”) Action passages that require multiplayer game-esque teamwork and have a twist-rich dramaturgy. Therefore, the digital-artificial shimmer that the action moments often have is only half as annoying. Most of the time they are more of an opportunity for situational comedy, smug irony or character turning points – and as such they work. Otherwise, “Jumanji: The Next Level” is in many respects on par with its predecessor – the sound design has power, the costumes and production design are absolutely presentable and Kasdan’s direction has little noteworthy style, but Kasdan manages to effortlessly balance the adventure and to switch between the comedy feeling of the material without the film falling apart. In this respect, “Jumanji: The Next Level” is really the next level in the “Jumanji” franchise: more exciting, sillier, funnier and warmer, and yet still thoroughly recognizable as a continuation of what came before. Great fun!
Conclusion: Faster, crazier and also with heart: “Jumanji: The Next Level” is wild, gripping adventure cinema for the whole family.
“Jumanji: The Next Level” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from December 12th – also in 3D!