Jumanji: The Next Level was a no-brainer after the enormous success of the second movie and that’s pretty much all you need to know about why we got this third installment.
This threequel once again focuses on the video game played by the teenage characters in the last one. They’ve gone they’re separate ways, but they reunite and Spencer is home from college and spending time with his grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito).
Eddie comes across his former business partner Milo Walker (Danny Glover) whom he hasn’t spoken to in 15 years since the closing of their restaurant.
Well, enough about the subplots. Let’s get to why we’re really here. The four teens eventually do meet up sans Spencer and find themselves magically in Jumanji searching for a lost jewel that will restore peace. It’s not the plot really matters here.
Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black are back reprising their roles as the avatars of the four kids, but this time DeVito and Glover find their way into game via Johnson and Hart. Their humor does work well and display some natural chemistry.
Spencer had already entered the game and his avatar is a female Chinese warrior (Awkwafina). Gender swapping occurs frequently in the movie and the humor is oftentimes hit or miss.
They all band together to fight off a ruthless warlord (Rory McCann) who has possession of the jewel.
As for the rest of the film, it pretty much switches gears between elaborate set pieces with humor interwoven. One great piece involves constantly changing bridges while the characters are being chased by baboons. It’s pretty inventive stuff.
The Next Level probably contains twice the action and laughs but surprisingly it also has twice the heart. There’s plenty of moments where the characters are able to slow down and develop before the next action sequence.
The Next Level may not reach the heights of its predecessor, but compared to what it could’ve been, I’d say it’s a moderately entertaining diversion on a December day.
Rated PG-13 for adventure action, suggestive content and some language.
Hall is a local movie critic.