Jumanji The Next Level (2019): ‘Missed Opportunities, Milking Franchises’ – A Film Review



In 1995, we were unexpectedly treated to a tale about growing up in the form of a board game that players had to live. In 2017 we saw a reboot/sequel that modernised this concept for video games and the 21st century. It was more lighthearted and dumb than the original, but the actors and stars were having their fun with it. Whether it be for franchise, for stars or for this sense of fun, the film made money. Since we’re in the age of franchises, a sequel was a certainty. The first in the reboot made some use of the video game concept, but largely missed the opportunity to embrace this rather unique stance on storytelling – or even the possibility for video game related jokes. This does however leave a possibility for the film to progress and build upon the established ideas of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in Jumanji: The Next Level.


Here We have the Sequel

It’s always difficult to criticise a film for the sins of its predecessor. Jumamji: Welcome to the Jungle was a dumb film, it was too lighthearted to be heartwarming. It’s characters, though memorable and funny, left a lot of depth to be desired. Making the film a harmless but fun ride and/or joke. Jumanji: The Next Level is much in the same tone. Though the film feels like a useless continuation of the first, there is an actual idea behind this film that does hold some credence. SPOILERS: A gamer can and will return to a bad game, or any game, even if they don’t want to, because they’re sucked into it. END OF SPOILERS. Handling the sequel also by making reference to different levels in gaming, see the title, works, but they also miss this point and contradict it in dialogue. Again, it’s meant to be a dumb film, we perhaps shouldn’t be expecting too much from it.


The Stars as Stars

There are fun visuals and reasonable use of CGI. Whilst we see many of the same jokes return, there are a few more that explore the ideas of video games as depicted in films. They can be inconsistent, and serve the plot in a deus ex machina: for the script, kind of way. Which leaves the script being cheesy and basic. It’s, again, dumb, but the fun is in the performances. The stars are here to be making fun of themselves and we have a few more cast members along for the ride. They are having fun and it’s with them that the film succeeds. It is harmless. It’s just dumb and reasonably emotionless too.



We didn’t need this sequel, but it at least tries to follow what it did in the first. It somewhat relives the past glories whilst giving the cast more chances to make fun of themselves, which is a fun thing to see on the screen. With a cast like this, they’ve become very good at using this as an opportunity to have fun with their star personas. Really don’t expect much from a film like this. Action scenes haven’t much weight, scenes of tension have little effect, dramatically there’s not much emotion here either. It is literally a film about stars making fun of themselves to the backdrop of a dumbed down version of Jumanji (Why it wasn’t just an original film, I don’t know), making interesting, but unfortunately limited, references to video games along the way.



Spencer (Alex Wolff) finds his insecurities lead him back into the video game Jumanji where his friends follow. Due to the consoles broken nature, it unfortunately drags extra people into the game and glitches the game into skipping the chance to picking characters. Once again, they’re faced with the challenges within the jungles of Jumanji.




starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish


starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish


starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish


starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish


A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Jumanji (d. Joe Johnston USA 1995)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (d. Jake Kasdan USA 2017)

Jumanji: The Next Level (d. Jake Kasdan USA 2019)


Further Reading



Official Site

Cast Q&A Interview

Cast Interviews

Jake Kasdan Interview

Behind the Scenes


Easter Eggs


If you liked this

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017): ‘The Game Film’ – A Film Review

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019): ‘Maleficent’s Expanded Universe’ – A Film Review

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019): ‘Back in the World of Characters’ – A Film Review

This was an analytical review of….


Jumanji: The Next Level (d. Jake Kasdan USA 2019)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.