REVIEW: Jumanji The Next Level is even funnier than what went before
PUBLISHED: 13:35 13 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:14 14 January 2020
With the same hilarious body swap antics that made the last film such a hoot, The Next Level doubles down on this success by adding more characters and freshens things up by switching their roles.
Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart reunite with writer/director Jake Kasdan for this follow up to the surprise 2017 hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
A year after the conclusion of the last film, a depressed Spencer (Alex Wolff), desperately missing the thrill of the game, has thrown himself recklessly back into it. When his friends find him missing, they attempt to re-enter Jumanji to mount a rescue, mistakenly taking Spencer's Grandfather Eddie and his elderly friend Milo with them.
Featuring the same hilarious body swap antics that made the last film such a hoot, The Next Level doubles down on this success by adding more characters and freshens things up by switching their roles.
Dwayne Johnson's computer game hero Dr Smolder Bravestone is now inhabited by Danny Devito's Grandpa Eddie while Danny Glover's character Milo is transported into the body of Kevin Hart's Mouse Finbar.
This results in some great reoccurring humour, as the elderly men are astounded by their fresh new hips and knee joints, while remaining completely bewildered by the world in which they find themselves. "Are we dead?" exclaims Johnson on more than one occasion.
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Karen Gillen and Jack Black return as in game characters Ruby Roundhouse and Professor Shelley Oberon and also get the chance to play with new occupying personalities. Awkwafina shines as new character Ming Fleetfoot and is a welcome new addition to the cast, while Game of Thrones' Rory McCann adds threat as villain Jurgen the Brutal.
Director Kasdan, who wrote the script with Jeff Pinker and Scott Rossenberg widens the scope from the Jungle of the first film to include arid deserts and snowy mountain ranges and keeps the pace up with some frantic action scenes. The dune buggy chase through the desert and a rope bridge baboon attack are particularly inventive and enthralling.
Predictably, the film's finale leaves a thread dangling for another episode, but with Kasdan at the helm who is to say it won't be just as successful.
Every year, cinemas are full of quick cash-in sequels that don't live up to the original, but Jumanji manages to buck the trend.
The Next Level is a thoroughly entertaining comedy adventure which is arguably even funnier than the 2017 film.