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IMAX Review – Jumanji: The Next Level – “A fun and slightly more dangerous romp through the jungle”

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Set one year after the last blockbuster sequel, the group of teenagers have graduated and moved on to the next phase of their lives. This brings a lot of challenges, specifically for Spencer, who is afraid of leaving his best years behind him and decides to re-enter the world of Jumanji to regain his confidence. His friends go back in the game to save him but are joined by Spencer’s grandfather Eddie Gilpin played by Danny DeVito and his old friend Milo Walker played by Danny Glover, which helps keep the similar film distinct from the previous instalment and in some instances more mature.

Building on the previous film, the teens end up in different avatars from their last trip in a great body-swap theme that plays throughout the film. Playing to the strengths of the main cast of Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black and Kevin Hart – watching Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart bicker as old men is hilarious, while Jack Black isn’t nearly as funny as when he inhabited the character of Bethany. It all gets a bit confusing, especially when new avatar Awkwafina appears, but the actors are flexible enough to portray characters through body language alone.

The group are set a new task – which is the same as the old one to find a magic crystal, deliver it and call out the name Jumanji. The journey is tweaked slightly to new locations and new villains, across sprawling deserts and snowy mountains which were great to watch on an IMAX screen in 3D, particularly as the action starts and things become more kinetic. Working through levels, the group are a little more adept than they were last time and find themselves with different strengths and weaknesses which all cleverly pay off.

Whilst this is a direct sequel it is easy for a newcomer to jump straight into this film as the film anchors itself on the relationship between Eddie and Milo. The stubborn old men have fallen out since Milo decided to retire early. The two work through their issues as they try to remember that they are in a video game, something Karen Gillan’s character constantly has to explain. Lampooning the video game genre in the process and rekindles the familiar conversation of explaining a game to anyone over a certain age.

Jumanji: The Next Level is such a fun and slightly more dangerous romp through the jungle, changing just enough elements to keep the film fresh while calling back to the previous instalments. There’s something about watching a group bond over running from Mandrills, Ostriches and Hyenas that really makes this a great family fun film to watch over the holidays.

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