Jumanji: The Next Level

More of the Game

2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a reboot (as opposed to sequel) of the mediocre 1995 Robin Williams SFX romp, was a surprise hit that didn’t take itself too seriously and offered some amusing character swaps, for want of a better phrase.  But the trouble with surprise hits if you’re a profit-driven Hollywood studio is that elusive and bothersome little surprise part.

This sequel brings back the original adventurers (Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillian) and throws in a few new characters and actors to play them (Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Awkwafina), resulting, if you’re familiar with the Jumanji canon, in some briefly amusing impersonations (like The Rock doing DeVito). 

This augmented crew of avatars finds itself in a video-game world apparently ruled by despotic special effects technicians and hack scriptwriters, and they lurch from one overdesigned set piece to another saying stupid stuff and trying not to die (too many times). There are a few flashes of comic brilliance, to be sure, but mostly this is just multiplex fodder. 

There’ll be at least one more Jumanji sequel I’m sure, but for me, this is Game Over.

December 13 (123 min)