Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan
How could Jake Kasdan take his surprise smash hit, Jumanji (2017), and make a sequel that didn’t rely on the first film’s set up? When in doubt, add two Danny’s, Devito and Glover. Both actors shine during their small amount of screen time in 2019’s Jumanji: The Next Level (the third film in the franchise), but, more importantly, give our main characters a template for comedic delivery.
The Jumanji remake from 2017 had audiences laughing at Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart’s adolescent preoccupations. The comedy was pushed even further with Jack Black’s tasteful, but no less shocking, roll as a teenage girl. Karen Gillan rounded out the cast with less comedic prowess but more empowerment. Her character, meek and non-confrontational in real life, transformed into a deadly and skillful avatar as Ruby Roundhouse, the only Female Avatar in the game of Jumanji.
In fact, Gillan, alongside the inclusion of the Rock and Hart acting like Devito and Glover, is one of the main reason Jumanji: Next Level succeeds as well. In a surprisingly well acted scene, The Roundhouse avatar vacillates between genders, and Gillan may have earned MVP with this switch up.
Meanwhile, Black is still great but now in a different role. The comedy of these scenes is far more important to the story than the entertaining yet forgettable action sequences.
There are some great cameo-surprises in the third act too, which, if you can avoid reading IMDB beforehand, would add to your enjoyment.
From the director who brought us the amazing Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007), and the not so amazing Sex Tape (2014), Kasdan’s second shot at the Jumanji Franchise is solid.
If Walk Hard is an A, Sex Tape a D, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a B+, then this sequel is a solid B.