By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 23 December 2019)
‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ came out just a week before Christmas and has done well at box offices, both in Nairobi and overseas.
I didn’t see the first ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ but I got a briefing from a child who had seen it and loved it and was eager to see ‘the next level.’
Billed as a children’s movie, there are a couple of swear words sprinkled in the film that might disturb sensitive parents. But for the most part, Jumanji II is a marvelous action adventure that has a fun story line and keeps both kids and adults alert to the clever antics of a group of teens.
In fact, Jumanji II might have been constructed specifically to entertain both the parents and grandparents as well as the kids since the film mixes comedy and fantasy with action-adventure and heaps of special effects. There are also assorted age groups represented in Jumanji II. The old folks are played by Danny Glover, Sr. and Danny DeVito who get morphed into semi-super hero-styled characters early on in the film. There are also present-day stars like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Jack Black and Kevin Hart in it as well as a load of up-and-coming actors like Karen Gillan, Madison Iseman and Awkwafina.
The story initially revolves around a quartet of former high school buddies who have gone separate ways but are hoping to reunite during the holidays. They were the stars of Jumanji 1, including Spencer, the geeky one, Martha his former girlfriend, Bethany and Fridge. They all seem to be doing well except for Spencer who ended up in a going-nowhere job. So once he gets home, he makes the reckless decision to reconstruct the old video game, called Jumanji, which had previously sucked the four into its game world in the first film.
Once the other three realize Spencer is missing, they follow him back into the game world (by magic of course). That is when their ‘avatars’ (their representatives acting in the game) appear. Spencer now becomes ‘the Rock’ (Dwayne Johnson, who also co-produced the film); Martha becomes a karate queen (Karen Gillan); Fridge becomes the Kevin Hart character and Jack Black becomes Bethany.
If that sounds confusing, that’s just half of it since events occur leading to some of them switching roles (or ‘avatars’). Either way, their story is full of fantastic adventures as they need to retrieve a specific gemstone to actually get out of Jumanji. Otherwise, they will be stuck inside the video game forever!
This is when the story gets exciting and action-packed. The Rock shows off his muscularity, beating up enemy gangs, carnivorous ostrich-like herds of birds and other hairy, scary creatures who aim to devour them all. Karen Gillan as Martha also acquires super-hero-style karate moves; and Kevin Hart becomes a linguist who speaks fluently with animals.
Naturally, since Jumanji II targets teen audiences especially, one can be sure, the ending won’t give anyone nightmares. Instead, the film is a story well-told.