If you couldn't get enough of the adolescent humor and wild visual effects of the previous Jumanji film from 2017...then have no fear! There's more computer-generated animals, more jokes about private parts, and more casual brushes with death.
The very first Jumanji film from 1995 started this adventure based on the 1981 children's novel by Chris Van Allsburg. This adventure got an energetic boost in 2017 with the remake Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. And now Jumanji: The Next Level is a sequel to the 2017 remake. The same teenage friends (or cliched stereotype friends) from 2017 are back in this sequel and get sucked into the magical video game again to conquer....wait for it....the next level. But the next level is not just the jungle. The players endure an ostrich stampede in the desert, a mysterious oasis pool, and a snowy mountain fortress. In case that sounds too bland or unfulfilling, there's also a crashing blimp, a maze of suspension bridges, and new video game characters. If this sounds like a lot....it is! Much like when you're surrounded by holiday cookies. They all look so appetizing. But after you shove them all into your mouth, you start feeling like it wasn't such a great idea.
Jumanji: The Next Level felt like a theme park ride over-eager to hold everyone's attention withpainfully ordinary jokes and tender moments of friendship and romance that are either hurried or insincere (mostly due to poor writing). Having a heart-to-heart less than 5 minutes long while climbing a giant wall of ice is not a great way to evoke serious emotion or relatability in your lead characters. But yes, the action scenes are entertaining, and the film is a clear crowd-pleaser for children. It just doesn't care about anything but the flashy rush of fierce animals, fighting the bad guys, and outwitting dangerous odds. It doesn't offer anything new or original. But it achieves its goal offering "fun for the whole family"....and that's not such a bad idea.