Review: Does ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ live up to the hype?

(l to r) Nick Jonas, Jack Black, Karen Gillan,  Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart  star in JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.

Frank Masi | Flikr

(l to r) Nick Jonas, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart star in JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.

Tessa Donahoe, Staff Writer

Everyone remembers when the first “Jumanji” movie came out in 1995. We all know the one — starring Robin Williams as trapped child in the game, Alan Parrish, and Bradley Pierce as Peter Shepherd, a young game player. This movie made approximately $263 million worldwide, with a budget of $65 million. Then, when the sequel, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” came out in 2017, because of the hype from the first iconic “Jumanji,” everyone was even more excited and looking forward to seeing it. As a result, when it came out on Dec. 20, 2017, it made approximately $7.2 million the first day, $7.6 the second day and over a three-day weekend it made $36.2 million. Over a period of six days, it ended up making $71.9 million and placed No. 2 at the box office, behind “Star Wars.”

So, does the newest iteration of this story, “Jumanji: The Next Level,” which premiered Dec. 13, 2019, live up to the hype? The third installment of the “Jumanji” series is directed by Jake Kasdan, starring Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Danny DeVito and Jack Black. I’d say, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” (2017) was better.

In the first re-vamped “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” a group of four teenagers at Brantford High School all had detention in the basement of the school, and one student named Spencer found an old game called, “Jumanji.” They all decide to play the game, which leads to them going into the game and becoming the characters they chose. All of a sudden, Jack Black is playing a female character named Bethany, worrying over his hair and nails, while Dwayne Johnson poses as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, a famed explorer and national archaeologist.

Then, in the newest 2019 version of “Jumanji”; The storyline of “The Next Level” fell flat. The newest movie kept the same concept as 2017’s “Welcome to the Jungle,” but it’s not nearly as original or as funny. However, some parts made up for the last movie’s shortcomings. Specifically, I would say Spencer’s comedic grandpa and his dynamic relationship with his friend definitely improved “Jumanji: The Next Level,” because it added more comedic value. 

Although, in my opinion, 2017’s “Welcome to the Jungle,” was better, there were a lot of good scenes in “Jumanji: The Next Level.” The scene that stood out the most to me would be when Spencer’s friend Fridge, played by Ser’Darius Blain, got to test out being the extremely strapping Ruby Roundhouse, because Fridge got the weakest character this time and he would definitely do anything to to be a different one. He ended up being the Professor Shelly who is a cartographer, which is the polar opposite of what he used to be. At one point, Fridge and Martha, the quiet shy high school student with a cynical intellect, have the unknown opportunity to switch characters. While Martha is reaching for “The Falcons Heart,” Fridge takes advantage of his new character and does some crazy acrobatics. He winds up falling into the pond, which leads to them switching back.

  “Jumanji: The Next Level,” comes off as very family friendly, but some parts might confuse some younger viewers who cannot follow the complex character switches and plot lines. If you want some good laughs and maybe some sentimental, touching moments, this movie would be for you. Although it would be better if you have seen “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” because you would be able to understand more, that shouldn’t stop anyone from seeing this funny flick.