SINKING TO A NEW LEVEL
JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL (12A)
DURING a rare heartfelt exchange in director Jake Kasdan’s actionpacked sequel to his 2017 rumble in the jungle, a teenage protagonist asks chums to forget about the digital realm of Jumanji.
“Can we agree, let’s never go back there,” he urges.
Regrettably, his cautionary words are roundly ignored by Kasdan and co-writers Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg, who contrive a return to the booby-trap laden wilderness where digitally rendered creatures can quickly deplete the characters’ three lives.
Jumanji: The Next
Level searches forlornly for a spot where lightning might strike twice but the plot and pacing are haphazard and the agreeably fractious double-act of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart loses its comic lustre on a second viewing.
Repeated body-swapping in a harebrained second act tests the actors’ versatility but the rewards for us are scant. Contrary to the title, Kasdan’s second chapter is a disappointing step backwards.
It has been two years since high school students Bethany (Madison Iseman), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Martha (Morgan Turner) and Spencer (Alex
Wolff ) were sucked into a Jumanji video game cartridge and played as larger-thanlife avatars to secure their return to the real world.
While Bethany, Fridge and Martha have subsequently embraced college life, Spencer feels disconnected in New York.
He returns to Brantford to spend time with his mother (Marin Hinkle) and grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito).
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” grumbles the cantankerous old coot. “It’s all downhill from here.”
Haunted by Eddie’s gloomy summation, Spencer tinkers with the Jumanji cartridge and is magically transported back to the
L-R: Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillen Spencer (Alex Wolff) and Eddie (Danny DeVito)