[Review] Jumanji 2 Next level: One level below

Jumanji: Next Level combines adventure, action and comedy – all worn by Dwayne Johnson and his gang. If the previous chapter of this sequel to the iconic 1995 film paved the way for a modern reinterpretation of Jumanji, what’s left here? Is this sequel sequel still working?

In 2017, twelve years after the first film adaptation with Robin Williams of the children’s book “Jumanji” by Chris Van Allsburg, an unexpected sequel, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, was released. A real hit at the box office ($960 million worldwide), this direct sequel to the 1995 film forms a clever mix of Tron (Steven Lisberger, 1982) and Tonnerre sous les Tropiques (Ben Stiller, 2008), with mainstream action and comedy. . For the record, after the events of the first opus, a boy gets the famous enchanted board game as a gift. It resisted it until it turned into a video game cartridge.

Seduced by this modern version of Jumanji, the boy falls into his trap. Twenty years later, a quartet of high school students – Spencer (Alex Wolff), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Bethany (Madison Iseman) and Martha (Morgan Turner) – find the console in an hour of glue, insert a game cartridge into Jumanji to play and are in turn sucked into the game world.

For the first time (apart from the eponymous animated series), the plot opens in the lush and cruel world of Jumanji. Each teenager plays a character from the game, with three lives: Dr. Bravestone, group leader (Dwayne Johnson), zoologist Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart), cartographers Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) and Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillian). ), an expert in close combat. Finishing the game before spending their entire life was enough to ward off the curse. Without breaking the three legs of a duck (or an ostrich?), this first sequel has the advantage of innovating and proposing an interesting concept of mise en abyme, which also causes real and funny situations between the characters.

Useless sequel?
Jumanji: Next Level takes the principles set out in the previous film and forces its characters to dive back into the virtual jungle again to save one of them – or rather, to replay the same game. confidence by returning to the great and strong Bravestone position. However, nothing went according to plan.

Spencer doesn’t find himself in the shoes of The Rock and his friends, except for Martha, followed by two new characters – Eddie (Danny DeVito), Spencer’s grandfather, and his former friend Milo (Donald Glover) – do not retreat into the envelope of the same body either. The rest: nothing new under the sun. As in the previous work, the world of Jumanji – which here is a snow-covered mountain and an oasis in the middle of the desert – still lacks the dangers and threats of his invasion of our world, let’s think about it in the 1995 film. Even the famous Jumanji drums are less scary. there.

The three lives per character system is simple and very memorable in this second sequel. However, it has no real consequences and above all, unlike the previous Jumanji, it has no influence on the plot. Result: the audience is never afraid of the protagonist in the slightest. Strengths and weaknesses, which are assigned to each character on a team (as in an RPG or role-playing game), are also no joke. For example, the superhuman strength of Dr. Bravestone (in the hands of Eddie’s character) becomes so ridiculous that even Asterix and Obelix seem more incredible by comparison. Likewise, Bravestone’s only weakness (absent from the first game) was almost immediately gone and no longer played any role after that. At least when Asterix runs out of magic potions, we know the time is serious!

One step forward, two steps back
The film struggles to conquer its audience on all other levels. The comic aspect oscillates between humor that’s too low-key for teens and too raunchy for kids. On the action side, nothing revolutionized the genre, nothing superior and nothing out of the ordinary. Even this parody honors genre classics like the first Mission: Impossible (Brian De Palma, 1996), the Indiana Jones saga – already seen and reviewed references, – or Tomb Raider falling into the water. The fleeting moments of emotion don’t make viewers become attached to the characters or raise the stakes because they’re all teased, even by accident.

When the two characters as a couple seriously discuss the state of their relationship, it’s resting on the side of a climbing glacier. When a character says goodbye to his best friend, it’s when his best friend is a talking horse, neighing! Even the idea of ​​mixing karakter is not assumed, despite the various opportunities to take advantage of it. Each eventually returns to their original character in deceptively epic slow-motion scenes based on Guns N’Roses’ “Welcome To The Jungle”. It’s probably bad for good other than that, taking into account the overplays of Dwayne Johnson in Danny DeVito and Kevin Hart in Donald Glover… In short, Jumanji: Next Level is an automatic and energyless recovery from any adventure or action. – Comedy films already exist.