6.5/10 When “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” came out in 2017, it was a huge surprise both in terms of audiences not knowing what to expect from the film and also in terms of box office grosses. Now that we know what to expect from this film, a bit of the allure and surprise is gone and the sequel feels a little rushed but is still a really fun time at the cinema and if you enjoyed the last one, you will find some enjoyment here as well. Besides this film feeling rushed to capitalize off of the success of the last, superior film, this installment has some problems that aren’t glaring but still worth calling out. For starters, just being able to fix the Jumanji video game console/cartridge to get it to work was pretty ridiculous after it was completely smashed in by a bowling ball and left right next to a dumpster in the last film. First off all, it was completely crushed to the point where there is no way in Hell it would have been able to be repaired and also, since it was left next to a dumpster, there is a high probability that it would have been thrown into the dumpster and taken away to a landfill/incinerator. Other problems include the fact that with the exception of some new characters, we are essentially getting more of the same in terms of plot and predictability. The film, while entertaining, isn’t nearly as funny as the last film. The score is rather forgettable but most of the visual effects look well done, which makes up for that. Despite these flaws, I still would recommend this film (especially if you saw the last one) due to the many strengths that it has. One improvement over the last film is that it felt like more of the missions/levels/quests were more video game esque than in the last film. A moment with swinging, rotating bridges where baboons were chasing our characters felt like it was straight out of a Super Nintendo video game, which I really enjoyed. By adding two old men as new characters, we did get some heartfelt emotional aspects that helped elevate the film as well as some solid humor sprinkled in. A couple characters were brought back from the last film in a pretty natural, unforced way which was great. The film also ends on a twist more akin to the original “Jumanji” that I think would be really interesting for a sequel to spice things up and add some significant story changes that this film was lacking. The villain is rather forgettable, just like the last film but since the villain is from an old video game, where villain characters were never developed, it fits in rather well. Besides the two old men, Awkwafina joined the cast and she not only was a welcome addition who did a great job but she didn’t have to change her voice that much when Danny DeVito’s character was inhabiting her, which I found amusing. Like “The Hangover Part II”, this sequel plays it safe but is still a fun time. The returning cast is having a blast and their chemistry is fantastic and although they need to change things up to close out this new Jumanji trilogy, I will gladly roll the dice one more time.
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