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December 17, 2019

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) --- “It’s Time To Go To The Next Level.”


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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Two years have passed since Spencer (Alex Wolff), Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain), Martha (Morgan Turner) and Bethany (Madison Iseman) unearthed the old-school video-game console Jumanji. Since then the friends have started college and while they still remain friends, for the most part, they have gone their separate ways. Feeling distant from his friends, Spencer goes back into the game and now it’s up to his friends to go in after him. But the power of the mysterious game is unlimited and this time it pulls in a couple of innocent bystanders to become unwilling players in a dangerous and ever-evolving game. Can Dr. Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Professor Shelly (Jack Black), Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart), Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), and more survive the game’s challenging new level with unforgiving deserts,  steep snow-capped mountains, and a mighty new adversary who’s plan of world domination threatens the future of Jumanji? Or will Spencer and his friends remain trapped in the game forever?
    In 1995 the first Jumanji starring the late Robin Williams was not a major success at first but it later became a nostalgic piece of entertainment from the ’90s. Now with a new generation of audiences, the filmmakers updated the original film’s premise to better suit our modern world, providing the plausible theory that the game will evolve in whatever way it needs to in order to ensure that the game is played, thus transforming the board game into a retro video game and pulling players into the game rather than bring the game to life in the real world. After the success that was 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, director/writer Jake Kasdan and co-writers Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg return to helm the third film the Jumanji series, Jumanji: The Next Level (2019). Based on the novel Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg, Next Level features a new storyline with a new adventure, new characters, and even new landscapes that are sure to culminate into an exciting, fun, and immersing film. While the challenges and the character dynamics are different, it's roughly the same, albeit evolved, story but with some new forms of entertainment.
     The new character dynamics help keep the story fresh and entertaining. Dwayne Johnson’s (Hobbs & Shaw) and Kevin Hart’s (The Upside) interpretation as Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) and Danny DeVito (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) was not the greatest interpretation I have ever seen but it was still very funny and entertaining to watch them adopt the mannerisms of Glover and DeVito. Jack Black (School of Rock) gets a hilarious turn at playing Fridge, while Karen Gillan (Avengers: Endgame) anchors the cast as Martha, who seems to be the only character to have returned to their original avatar. Awkwafina (The Farewell) joins the group as new avatar Ming Fleetfoot, who fits right in alongside the rest of the characters and also has her shot at playing two different characters. My favorite was the one she plays near the end. Rory McCann (Game of Thrones) also does a great job as the story’s new villain, Jurgen the Brutal. The rest of the characters - Ser'Darius Blain as Anthony "Fridge" Johnson, Morgan Turner as Martha Kaply, Alex Wolff as Spencer Gilpin, Madison Iseman as Bethany Walker, Colin Hanks as Alex Vreeke, Nick Jonas as Jefferson "Seaplane" McDonough, and Rhys Darby as Nigel Billingsley - reprise their previous roles with better performances and more character development than before.
    Overall, Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) is a must-see film, especially for fans of the original 1995 film. While the story is the verge of being thin after sustaining two films, this film takes it up a notch with a reinvented story, laugh-out-loud comedy, and better character performances. This is a fun and entertaining family film that offers new terrain but also pays respect to its original roots. I highly recommend that you check out this film, especially if you have the chance to see it in theaters.

Final Vote --- 7.5 of 10 stars

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