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Jumanji: The Next Level Movie Review - Not as Fresh as the First

Relationships are explored but our heroes are in different avatars.

Reviewed by on Dec 14, 2019
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld reviews Jumanji: The Next Level. When the teens have to go back into the game to find buddy Spencer, there are new stakes and new relationships. Is this a worthy sequel or a strange rehash?

In Jumanji: The Next Level Spencer (Alex Wolff) has kept the broken pieces of the Jumanji video game and, longing to be hunky and strong again, semi-repairs and goes back into the game hoping to re-enter avatar Dr. Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson). Friends Bethany (Madison Iseman), Fridge (Ser Darius Blain), and Martha (Morgan Turner) arrive and decide to re-enter Jumanji to save him.

Dr. Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson)Dr. Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson)Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Spencer's grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his estranged friend Milo (Danny Glover) are inadvertently sucked into the game. Nobody has selected an avatar so nobody but Martha (avatar Ruby) is in the same game body. Facing a new quest, the original players must clue in Milo and Eddie and hope to get out alive….again.

Jumanji: The Next Level Movie Trailer


Life Goes On

During the holidays, a year after the events of the previous film, Spencer, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany have gone their separate ways but Spencer is especially feeling like a loser since Martha is so happy at college. He thinks she won’t want wimpy him and their relationship is on hold. The gang makes plans to meet up for the holidays in Brantford. Spencer’s grandpa Eddie seems to have given up on life further depressing Spencer who realizes he was happier when he was hunky, strong Jumanji game avatar Dr. Bravestone. He fixes the game and is zapped back into it!

Spencer wants to be hunky Bravestone againSpencer wants to be hunky Bravestone againCourtesy of Sony Pictures

The Gang’s Not All Here

The next day, Spencer doesn’t show up for a group meal at the local diner so Fridge, Martha, and Bethany goes to his house where they meet Spencer's grandfather Eddie, who's staying at the house while recovering from hip surgery, and his former friend and ex-business partner Milo Walker. While there, the group realizes that Spencer has reassembled the broken game and has been sucked in. They decide to go get him and everyone is sucked in including Eddie and Milo. Only Bethany is left out. She decides to get the aid of original Jumanji player Alex (Colin Hanks) to get into the game.

Alex's Seaplane (left) is back in the gameAlex's Seaplane (left) is back in the gameCourtesy of Sony Pictures

New Quest

In the game, Martha finds she's back in the Ruby Roundhouse avatar (Karen Gillan) but Fridge winds up in Professor Oberon's form (Jack Black) while Eddie is Bravestone and Milo is Mouse (Kevin Hart). Eddie and Milo's awkward unfamiliarity with the game costs Fridge his first life, Non Player Character guide Nigel Billingsley (Rhys Darby) lands in a plane and informs the group that the game world is again in danger. A warlord named Jurgen the Brutal (Rory McCann), who in this game is responsible for the deaths of Bravestone's parents, recently stole a magical stone called the Falcon's Heart. It had kept the land fertile and prosperous. Now that it is gone, there is drought and poverty. It has been hidden and must “see” the sun again to set things right. They must retrieve it before he sells it to two brothers heading a crime syndicate. They must see that it gets sun and yell “Jumanji” to go home.

For a while Eddie is Bravestone and Milo is MouseFor a while Eddie is Bravestone and Milo is MouseCourtesy of Sony Pictures

The Oasis

After a big dune buggy chase in which the group avoids stampeding ostriches, they arrive at an isolated oasis and find Spencer, now inside avatar Ming (Awkwafina) a thief and lock picker. After Eddie/Bravestone encounters a hot former lover, the group figures out a clue leading them to a strange “Jumanji berry” that is needed to beat baddie Jurgen. Since they retrieved it from a pool of weird water that caused them to switch avatars temporarily, Martha and Fridge are even more disoriented. After Spencer, Eddie, and Milo’s avatars steal camels to get them through the desert the group moves on. Fridge feels that Oberon's status as a field guide is detrimental to their survival, Spencer is too self-conscious to use Ming's skills properly, Milo's slow and spacey speech keeps him from revealing key info in a timely manner, and Eddie's hot-headedness cause him to pick fights with everyone. Thus the group is losing lives! Eddie still blames Milo for retiring early and closing the diner they co-owned.

At the Oasis Ming joins the groupAt the Oasis Ming joins the groupCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Dangerous Adventures

After the group narrowly escapes vicious attacking monkey mandrills on a series or revolving rope bridges, they are joined finally by pilot/adventurer Seaplane (Nick Jonas), actually original player Alex and a gorgeous black horse named Cyclone (Bethany’s new avatar). barely surviving a horde of mandrills at a series of revolving bridges, the group reunites with Alex and Bethany (though Bethany is stuck as a black winged horse named Cyclone). They eventually find a river with water similar to what Fridge and Martha found. Spencer, Fridge, and Bethany get their original avatars back, while Eddie and Milo ends up in Ming and Cyclone respectively, but they are captured by Jurgen's men shortly after.

Ostrich herd is comingOstrich herd is comingCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Captured and Escape

In a high fortress, Fridge and Bethany stall the mercenaries while Spencer, Martha, and Alex rescue Ming and horse Cyclone. While the group holds Jurgen's men off, Spencer now back inside the Bravestone avatar, uses the Jumanji berry (Jurgen's only weakness) to incapacitate him long enough to send him falling to his death. Spencer gets the Falcon's Heart to Eddie and Milo… surprise Cyclone can fly and they expose it to sunlight but will the quest be totally successful? Will everyone return to the real world?

The friends are back in their original avatarsThe friends are back in their original avatarsCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Stay seated a little into the end credits for a scene in which a heating system service guy comes to Spencer’s house, finds Jumanji in the basement, touches it and… next thing we see, a big herd of ostriches run down main street. Whoops! Has the world of Jumanji spread to our world?

Bethany back in her original avatar (Jack Black)Bethany back in her original avatar (Jack Black)Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Wrapping Up

Jumanji: The Next Level gets a slow start and adding a couple of grandpas to the mix may appeal more to adults than kids and teens. However, the original characters and actors are back and Awkwafina especially is very funny and effective as the Ming avatar.

Awkwafina funny as Ming (front)Awkwafina funny as Ming (front)Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Challenges are visually fun but having the avatars be “housed” by various players can be a bit confusing. Dwayne Johnson is still great as beefy Dr. Bravestone but putting on the voice and accent of grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito) isn’t always convincing. Jack Black is funnier as Bethany than as Fridge (the actor does a better silly female accent than that of a modern black older teen).

Dwayne tries to put on Danny DeVito accenDwayne tries to put on Danny DeVito accentCourtesy of Sony Pictures

A final scene sets us up for a new Jumanji movie that echoes the original Robin Williams film from the ‘90’s in which characters and dangers from the Jumanji gaming world bleed over into ours.

Will the Jumanji action move to our world?Will the Jumanji action move to our world?Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Although the whole concept was fresher the first time around, we were entertained enough this holiday season to award four stars.

By: Lynn Barker

Jumanji: The Next Level Movie Rating: 4

Jumanji: The Next Level Movie PosterCourtesy of Sony Pictures

See Jumanji: The Next Level in theaters now!

Are You a Gamer?

What if you could really be a cool avatar in a gaming world? Would you be up for the challenges? Who is your fave Jumanji actor or avatar? What kind of gaming world would you create? Leave a comment here and/or on your kidzworld profile page!