Three years after ‘Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle’, Spencer (Alex Wolff) is worried about seeing his Jumanji friends, thinking they all have better lives than him. Believing that it was Jumanji that made him feel relevant, he sets out to return there. So, when Spencer disappears the others go to his house and meet Spencer’s grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his former friend Milo Walker (Danny Glover). Vowing to rescue him, they decide to return to the virtual world of Jumanji but the game has a few surprises in store when it comes to exactly who it will select for this latest quest…
...it quickly becomes apparent that DeVito’s much-telegraphed mannerisms are rich territory for everyone to have a crack at impersonating.
After the surprise, feel-good delight that was ‘Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle’, a further sequel was never really in doubt. Having already the done the scenic route the first time around and with all of its characters now well established, director Jake Kasdan switches things up by bringing in some new elements with the entertaining pairing of Danny DeVito and Danny Glover. In a role that calls for DeVito to be at his sniping, grouchy best, these are very familiar shoes for him to fill. However, Danny Glover’s restraint as mild-mannered Milo, makes for a superbly engaging straight man to DeVito’s caustically tossed barbs.
As the plot progresses, following the same level-orientated structure of the game, it quickly becomes apparent that DeVito’s much-telegraphed mannerisms are rich territory for everyone to have a crack at impersonating. Sadly though, what is missing from ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ is the high quality, quick-fire banter that set the previous sequel on fire. Whereas the dialogue succeeds in holding up the scenery and painting in the necessary, structural numbers, it is down to Kevin Hart’s take on Danny Glover to fill in and Awkwafina’s late arrival to lift the movie skywards. Karen Gillan is enjoyably sassy and her time on the Avengers movies has been well spent as she gets to kick some decent martial arts butt. However, left with the majority of screen time and very little to do is Dwayne Johnson. Having polished his on-screen persona and self-deprecating charm over the years, he’s still an enjoyable presence but sadly is left a little under-utilised this time round.
So, neither terrific nor terrible, ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ falls short of the promise that ‘Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle’. In advance of Christmas charades, everyone gets a go at being Danny DeVito but devoid of the previous movie’s magic, this is one Christmas parcel you might consider passing on until it falls into Netflix’s lap.