A team of friends return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own but discover that nothing is as they expect. The players need to brave parts unknown, from arid deserts to snowy mountains, in order to escape the world’s most dangerous game.
Since returning from the first adventure in Jumanji, our original team of Spencer, Martha, Bethany, and Fridge have all kept in touch despite going their separate ways after high school. Spencer and Martha’s relationship has struggled due to the long distance, but a return to Brantford for the holidays gives them all the perfect opportunity to get together and catch up.
However, it seems that Spencer’s time in Jumanji and at New York University has caused him to begin to doubt himself, and in order to try to rediscover who he thinks he is, he goes back into the game. Of course, the rest of our team has to go after him to bring him home again, but this time they accidentally bring along a couple of newcomers.
The film’s greatest strength lies in the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillian. Reprising their roles, though in a slightly different way than in Welcome to the Jungle, the game characters embody the personalities of their real-world counterparts in believable and hilarious ways.
From the point that our players re-enter the game, the film follows a somewhat expected, but not unwelcome, path. As our characters go level to level, trying to defeat a new challenge in the world of Jumanji, they are each dealing with their own challenges and personal relationships as they search for Spencer in the game.
With great action set-pieces, solid CGI, and a cohesive (though simple) narrative, Jumanji: The Next Level does a good job of keeping its audience cheering for our group of heroes and the relationships that they are working to mend. From start to finish, the film maintains the tone and feel of its predecessor, and deservedly carries its story forward.
Even though Jumanji: The Next Level honors the adventure and comedy of the 90s original, the language content makes this film Not Dove-approved.
The Dove Take:
While the film contains some foul language, it has some redeeming (if underdeveloped) themes centered on character relationships that carry weight, even through the mostly comedic tone of the film.