It was comedian legend Robin Williams who made the original Jumanji (1995) a notable film, and a formidable box office success. The concept was kids being sucked into a magic board game, where Williams had been trapped for decades.
In 2018 came a kind of sequel, where the teenagers were now “uploaded” in a video game. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a surprisingly funny film, with sloppy, cheeky comments and lots of self-irony. The sequel is as empty and meaningless as an anemic leech.
The gang gathers for the Christmas holidays, this time flanked by grandfathers Danny DeVito and Danny Glover. Into the video game it carries, to save Spencer. Thus, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan are once again wearing their game avatars – but not necessarily exactly the same as last time.
Herein lies the whole “concept” (if it can then be called something like that) for the sequel. It should always be HYSTERIC funny that the characters have changed avatar, personality and gender (!) In the game world. Think, Jack Black has suddenly got tits! But no, it’s actually not entertaining, just very tiring and overbearing (in the worst American way imaginable, overplaying, wise).
There is nothing to complain about the special effects, and the pace of the film is an action film at speed worthy. But, that Kevin Hart at all has gained an audience is beyond our comprehension, in Jumanji he is actually as annoying as Chris Tucker was in The Fifth Element; and that says a lot.
Jack Black has a bit more finesse, but with the generally clumsy dialogue, he does not get much to play on. The Rock does what he does best, flexes muscles and lifts heavily, while Gillan is the film’s only tolerable, and charming, character. In the end, we get a happy reunion with Rory McCann (The Hound in Game of Thrones), in an outrageous role that it actually squirts a bit.
All in all, it seems that no one has actually bothered to invest much effort in The Next Level, only appeared on set, obediently accepted the smelly, infantile script, and delivered the smallest common multiple. To then raise the paycheck, with a smile on their face, while they have been thinking: “Easy money!”.
The very youngest in the family will probably open the door to laughter from time to time, for everyone else: Steer clear of this convulsive attempt at comedy! 2 stars.