“Jumanji: The Next Level” is directed by Jake Kasdan and is the third entry in the “Junamji” series following 2018’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”. Kasdan returns as director having directed the previous film and other comedies such as “Orange County”, “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” & “Sex Tape”. The film sees the original cast return with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillian & Nick Jonas as the game avatars while Alex Wolf, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blaine, Madison Iseman & Colin Hanks return as their real world counterparts. Newcomers include Danny Devito, Danny Glover, Awkwafina and Rory McCann filling in as new players and avatars.
3 years after the event of “Welcome to the Jungle”, Spencer (Wolf), Fridge (Blaine), Martha (Turner) & Bethany (Iseman) are all living their lives as young adults should. However, Spencer feels as if apprehensive seeing how much everyone is having. So while spending the weekend with Grandpa Eddie (DeVito) , Spencer reactivates the game and goes in a new character in Ming (Awkwafina) a pickpocketing thief. Once they realize what Spencer has done, the rest of group go in after him, however Bethany is left behind and instead Eddie & his long time friend Milo (Glover) are swept into the game as Dr. Bravestone (Johnson) & Mouse Finbar (Hart). While Martha returns to her original avatar, Ruby Roundhouse (Gillian), Fridge is stuck with Dr. Oberon (Black). The new team must travel through a vast desert to find and rescue Spencer, all the while Bethany seeks out their old friend, Alex (Hanks) to help enter the game which is successful for Alex as returns as Seaplank McDounah (Jonas). Bethany has taken the role of the animal avatar, a black winged horse named Cyclone.
This film follows the same formula as not just the previous film but a sequel to an actual video game. More action, more adventure and more entertainment. Where the film falls apart, is the motivation going to back to this universe. Much like “John Wick: Chapter 2”, the film feels more like a cash grab than a continuation of the story. While the previous film felt like a reboot despite it being a sequel, the film had a conclusive ending. So now to return with the same cast seemed surprising as well as fast considering that the previous film came out less than 18 months earlier. The film is entertaining and fun, the cast was still firing on all cylinders both old and new.
Overall, the film picks up right where the last one leave and keeps the fun going. Everything is on point however, it’s motivation to return to the game and clearly financial gain to keep this franchise alive as the the driving factor that slow the movie down.