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Neil Soans
Neil SoansDec 10, 2019
3.5/5
Times of India

After the adventures of the first film, the gang is making their way through life in the real world. But while Martha, Bethany and Fridge have found their own identities, Spencer is struggling. Since he now lives in New York City, he’s unable to maintain a long-distance relationship with Martha, and they decide to take a break as a couple. Additionally, Spencer has kept the broken Jumanji game and finds himself drawn to it. When his friends discover he has gone back in, they realise they need to return to that dangerous world to save their friend. Only this time, Spencer’s grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his friend Milo (Danny Glover) are also pulled in. Lead actors Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan quickly find their groove again within the game world. Their chemistry is off the charts and since there’s a new twist with the body-swapping theme this time around, they get to play different personas. Once again, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart make a great pair, playing off each other’s charisma and wit to humorous effect. The new personalities brought in by Danny DeVito and Danny Glover add a whole subplot, which forms the emotional backbone and adds more depth to the story. The older duo shows off their experience, and DeVito steals every scene. Jack Black displays his range in more ways than one, while Karen Gillan revels in the physicality of her performance. Director Jake Kasdan knows how to elevate the strengths of his cast to great effect, and it shows. But despite the addition of new characters and some new twists in the game, the plot invariably becomes familiar after a while. Additionally, just like the previous instalment, Jumanji suffers from a lacklustre villain. Sure, the focus is predominantly on the group and their hijinks, but the threat of the bad guy never feels real. The plot plays out some similar beats as the previous film, and yet, it manages to get away with it, thanks to the cast. The visual effects are striking, and the set pieces do not disappoint either. While some of the problems of the first film persist, they’ll be hardly noticeable in the end, as the ‘Jumanji’ franchise puts out another entertaining entry with ‘The Next Level’.Read full review

Akhil Arora
Akhil AroraDec 12, 2019
NDTV

Owing to the inherent dangers of Jumanji — originally as a board game, and in its new avatar, as a video game — its participants always vow, at the end of their respective adventures, that they will go near it again. In the original 1995 film, the central duo throw Jumanji into a river. In the 2017 spiritual sequel, the central quartet destroy Jumanji with a bowling ball. On a plot level, it's logical for the characters to behave in that manner. But the box office success of the franchise — especially the newer one — nearly demands a return to its world for Sony Pictures. Caught between narrative and commercial interests, the winner is obvious between the two. Welcome to Jumanji: The Next Level. The sequel — from returning director Jake Kasdan, working off a script by Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg (Venom), and Kasdan — does the bare minimum in justifying the re-entry into Jumanji. It's self-aware to an extent, with one of the young adult protagonists snapping at another, “I can't believe you came back here on purpose,” but it's also very forgiving. And as a result, Jumanji: The Next Level ends being more of a rehash than a reinvention. And adding to its Indiana Jones riff — Kasdan is the son of Raiders of the Lost Ark writer Lawrence Kasdan, after all — the new Jumanji movie is also a mash-up of elements from Game of Thrones, Mission: Impossible, Lawrence of Arabia, and several video games. Spoilers ahead for casting surprises and video game avatars, unless you've seen the trailer, in which case, go right ahead. Jumanji: The Next Level opens with the four kids planning a Christmas reunion, having moved into college in the time after the previous film. Having not taken well to New York and his relationship with his intellectual equal Martha (Morgan Turner) on a break, the nerdy Spencer (Alex Wolff) finds himself craving the Jumanji high. It's revealed that Spencer recovered the broken game console, which he then attempts to fix. And after he doesn't show up to see his friends, the brawny Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain), the popular Bethany (Madison Iseman), and Martha go to his home, where they find Spencer's grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his former business partner Milo (Danny Glover) — but no Spencer. They realise that Spencer has gone back into Jumanji and decide to jump in as well to help him. But due to the half-broken nature of Jumanji, they don't get to select their characters. And moreover, Eddie and Milo are pulled in as well. Those writing decisions allow the writers to push their protagonists into the avatars they want them to inhabit. The frail Eddie ends up as the strong, well-built Dr. Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), the slow-talking Milo is now the zoologist “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart), and Fridge becomes the over-weight cartographer Professor Shelly (Jack Black). Only Martha retains her role as the elite killer of men, Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). Props to Jumanji: The Next Level for handing out new roles to most of its primary cast members — Johnson, Hart, and Black — who now have to channel a different young adult or one of the two new oldies. Gillan might have the same job, but she taps into Martha's anxiety and social cluelessness in a such a charming way, that she nearly steals the limelight altogether. Joining them is Awkwafina as a new avatar, who's a breath of fresh air, though she's not given enough to do ultimately. The sequel goes a step further and allows them to swap avatars inside Jumanji as well, which earns more laughs albeit from easy jokes, which sometimes land on the other side of the thin line that deals with race and gender. The unexpected switcheroos also miss out on pushing the queer themes of its predecessor. Moreover, the new Jumanji movie feels better oiled when everyone is back in their original avatars because they just seem to get them. This feels like a weird sentence to type but Black channelling a teenage girl is somehow perfect. That said, a scene in the desert involving Black as Fridge, where he laments how Prof. Shelly is useless for an adventure video game — since his new weaknesses are heat, sun, and sand — produces some of the biggest laughs in Jumanji: The Next Level. But that's not the case for everyone. Johnson isn't simply a natural comedic star and doesn't have the range of a DeVito, who can do more in his limited time than Johnson does in the rest of the film, playing him. The additional trouble is that Johnson's forgetful and hard-of-hearing act — as Spencer's grandpa — can only be stretched for so long. He's better off handling the emotional beats of the subplot, which involve an uneasy dynamic with Milo and their shared gripes about the perils of growing old. At the same time, Eddie and Milo's relationship also lays bare the thinness of the other characters and their relationships. All of Spencer, Martha, Fridge, and Bethany are essentially built on a single trait, and Jumanji: The Next Level's attempts to add to the bond between Bethany and Alex Vreeke (Colin Hanks) — the adult man whose avatar was played by Nick Jonas — virtually comes to nothing. The film's villain — played by Rory McCann, Game of Thrones' Sandor “The Hound” Clegane — similarly suffers, though that's nothing new, given the treatment meted to Bobby Cannavale in the previous one. And the sequel's action set-pieces — usually involving a herd of animals, from ostriches to mandrills — are nothing to write home about, which is a shame considering they form the bulk of the runtime. For what it's worth, Jumanji: The Next Level brings a few additions to the mix that worked well to the tune of nearly a billion dollars last time around. And it helps that it doesn't ever take itself too seriously, while being fun enough in parts to carry you across a casual watch on the telly. Essentially, Jumanji: The Next Level is far from necessary, but its (mid-credits scene) epilogue — which really should have been at the end of the previous chapter — suggests there's still some life left in this franchise, by pulling a Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and returning to the original form of Jumanji. Available in English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu, Jumanji: The Next Level is out December 13 in India. Paid previews on December 12. The additional trouble is that Johnson's forgetful and hard-of-hearing act — as Spencer's grandpa — can only be stretched for so long. He's better off handling the emotional beats of the subplot, which involve an uneasy dynamic with Milo and their shared gripes about the perils of growing old. At the same time, Eddie and Milo's relationship also lays bare the thinness of the other characters and their relationships. All of Spencer, Martha, Fridge, and Bethany are essentially built on a single trait, and Jumanji: The Next Level's attempts to add to the bond between Bethany and Alex Vreeke (Colin Hanks) — the adult man whose avatar was played by Nick Jonas — virtually comes to nothing. The film's villain — played by Rory McCann, Game of Thrones' Sandor “The Hound” Clegane — similarly suffers, though that's nothing new, given the treatment meted to Bobby Cannavale in the previous one. And the sequel's action set-pieces — usually involving a herd of animals, from ostriches to mandrills — are nothing to write home about, which is a shame considering they form the bulk of the runtime. For what it's worth, Jumanji: The Next Level brings a few additions to the mix that worked well to the tune of nearly a billion dollars last time around. And it helps that it doesn't ever take itself too seriously, while being fun enough in parts to carry you across a casual watch on the telly. Essentially, Jumanji: The Next Level is far from necessary, but its (mid-credits scene) epilogue — which really should have been at the end of the previous chapter — suggests there's still some life left in this franchise, by pulling a Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and returning to the original form of Jumanji. Available in English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu, Jumanji: The Next Level is out December 13 in India. Paid previews on December 12. Read full review

Soheib Ahsan
Soheib AhsanDec 12, 2019
4.0/5
News18

Jumanji has been an immortal franchise that has enjoyed a firm fanbase over the years. The face of Robin Williams as the daredevil player of the game has stayed with fans despite it being released nearly 25 years ago. The new line of Jumanji films has endured a lot of anger from fans for possibly tarnishing the reputation of Jumanji as set by Robin Williams. Nevertheless Jumanji: Welcome to the jungle made sure to remind fans that it follows in the footsteps of the first Jumanji film and does not mean to come across as a reboot to the Jumanji franchise. The first step to this is the opening scene of Dwayne Johnson’s Jumanji. The film opens up with the Jumanji game board lying on a beach with a pair of feet approaching it. This is a direct follow-up to Robin Williams’ Jumanji which ended with the game being left on the beach with a pair of feet approaching. Another tribute was made to the original Jumanji film when midway through the movie, the characters stumble upon a lodge. While not much is known about it, the name “Alan Parrish” is found carved into its walls. The name is a direct reference to the character of Robin Williams. In this way, the new Jumanji films confirm that they are only following in William’s footsteps and do not dare to call themselves the first Jumanji adventurers. The idea and concept that breathe new life into the franchise are how the game transforms itself from a board game into a video game to cope with the changing interests of teenagers. Not only that but the previous two Jumanji films revolved around the game’s characters being unleashed into the outside world. The new Jumanji films, on the other hand, revolve around people entering into the game inhabiting the bodies of its characters. This, in turn, has made the new Jumanji films very entertaining as they see Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black play a number of different characters. In Welcome to the Jungle, Johnson played the role of a timid schoolboy inhabiting his body, Hart played an annoyed bully and Black played a young, optimistic and full of life girl. This will be taking a humorous turn in The Next Level as Johnson and Hart play the role of characters whose bodies have been inhabited by elderly men and Black plays a cranky and annoyed teenager. Their new characters’ reactions to the world of Jumanji and how they cope with it gives the film a lot of potential to be just as fresh and entertaining as the last. Karen Gillan will be inhabited by the same character in the last film and therefore will probably continue to give audiences exciting stunts to look forward to. Currently, The Next Level also holds the air of mystery as to what the game’s new challenge are and if everyone makes it out alive this time. For that, one can only wait and hope that Jake Kasdan has recreated the adventure and excitement as the previous film. Jumanji: The Next Level is set to release on December 13. Read full review

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