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Jumanji - The Next Level

by Derek Deskins
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Mar 24, 2020
Jumanji - The Next Level

If I'm honest, "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" felt like a fool's errand. The original "Jumanji," while far from perfect, is one of those 90s movies that still succeeds with fresh eyes(thanks in no small part to the perpetual appeal of Robin Williams). We were all content to have this Jumanji be our only Jumanji, and we certainly didn't need one without Robin Williams. But against all the odds, "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" managed to be entertaining and sweet in the same way that the original was, if ultimately somewhat forgettable and inconsequential.

Well since that movie made tons of money, a sequel was all but assured. So here we are with "Jumanji: The Next Level," a movie that feels almost identical to its predecessor in every way.

It's been three years since we last saw Spencer, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany escape from Jumanji and forge a deep friendship with one another. Now the four have left high school and scattered around the world. While Fridge, Martha, and Bethany have managed to get comfortable in their new lives, Spencer is in New York City struggling. The rest of the group excitedly awaits their reunion, while Spence is dreading it. Unsure of himself, he does the unthinkable, dredges up the old Jumanji video game console. Now back in the game, it's up to the rest of the group to help return him to reality.

Much like "Welcome to the Jungle," "The Next Level" is gifted the wonder that is a phenomenal cast. The whole crew returns, with the added bonus of Awkwafina, Danny DeVito, and Danny Glover. Perhaps the most surprising part of "The Next Level" is how poorly Dwayne Johnson fares. Johnson adopts an awful New York accent (he is being played by DeVito's character) and becomes something of a charm blackhole. In his stead, Kevin Hart and Jack Black get more time to shine, earning most of the film's big laughs. The less said about the plot of "The Next Level" the better. The story is largely nonexistent, as it truly is played like the next level of a videogame. Little additional character development takes place and the stakes are slim (there is never any doubt that they will win). It makes for a pleasing if exceedingly thin and unmemorable final product.

The Blu-ray release of "Jumanji: The Next Level" is much like the movie itself, overloaded with fluff that doesn't amount to much. The release appears to contain a ton of extra features, but after exploring them all, I can report that it's all just smoke and mirrors. Most of the features clock in well under five minutes, with almost half just over a minute long. The features are cute but aren't exactly enlightening. The one outlier may actually be the Gag Reel, a feature that is often unfunny and useless, which in this case succeeds thanks to the very funny cast. "Jumanji: The Next Level" is quintessential popcorn entertainment: laugh-inducing and fun for the whole family but also repetitive and forgettable.

"Jumanji: The Next Level"
4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD
https://www.sonypictures.com/movies/jumanjithenextlevel
$19.49

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