DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Comedy at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Jake Kasdan
Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart
Writing Credits:
Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg

As they return to rescue one of their own, the players will have to brave parts unknown from arid deserts to snowy mountains, to escape the world's most dangerous game.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$59,251,543 on 4227 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Audio Descriptive Service
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 123 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 3/17/2020

• Gag Reel
• “Body Swapping” Featurette
• “Back Together” Featurettte
• “Level Up” Featurette
• “Creating the Scene” Featurette
• “Rhys Darby Wants to Jingle” Featurete
• “Awkwafina Cat Burglar” Featurette
• “NPC Confessions” Featurette
• “Grow Up” Featurette
• “Telenovela” Featurette
• “Trick or Treat” Featurette
• Select Scene Pre-Vis
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Jumanji: The Next Level [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 17, 2020)

More than two decades after the first movie became a hit, Jumanji returned with a 2017 reboot called Welcome to the Jungle. Because that film made big bucks, a sequel became inevitable, and that leads us to 2019’s Jumanji: The Next Level.

In the 2017 flick, high school classmates Spencer Gilpin (Alex Wolff), Bethany Walker (Madison Iseman), Anthony “Fridge” Johnson (Ser'Darius Blain ) and Martha Kaply (Morgan Turner) found themselves stuck inside an old videogame called Jumanji. When they escaped, the mismatched group continued as friends.

Two years later, the teens have graduated high school and remain pals. However, Spencer feels alienated from the group, as his college experience in New York leaves him unhappy.

The friends plan to meet up back home in New England over Winter Break, but Spencer ghosts them. Though the pals tried to destroy the Jumanji cartridge and console, he resuscitates these items and re-enters the game.

When the other three look for Spencer at his mother’s house, they find his Grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito) as well as Eddie’s estranged friend Milo Walker (Danny Glover). No one can find Spencer, and eventually the teens realize that he went back to Jumanji.

Despite their fears, they decide to pursue him there and they reactivate the game. However, this endeavor sends only Fridge and Martha, as Bethany remains at the house.

Instead, Milo and Eddie wind up in Jumanji, and all involved take over videogame characters. While Martha goes back into the same avatar as martial artist supreme Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), Fridge finds himself stuck as tubby cartographer Shelly Oberon (Jack Black).

Milo takes over Fridge’s old character, sidekick/valet Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart). Eddie turns into awesome badass Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson).

Both of the elderly men feel utterly perplexed by this turn of events, and the teens struggle to get them to understand the circumstances. The group needs to work together to find Spencer and solve another puzzle that will allow them to escape Jumanji.

Normally I try to keep my plot synopses to two paragraphs, so the overview above runs much longer than desired. Given the sheer number of characters, though, I felt I needed to offer an extended summary.

Note that I didn’t indicate that the movie’s plot demanded extra space. Yes, our characters need to worm their way through the usual allotment of challenges, but the specifics of these tasks feels irrelevant.

Do we find a main villain? Yup, as “Jurgen the Brutal” (Rory McCann) turns into the movie’s “ultimate boss”, the final obstacle to conquer.

Does anything about that character or the film’s overall story arc matter? Not really. Like a videogame, Level acts more as a collection of action scenes than a narrative that comes with much impact.

Not that this means I view Level as empty calories. While it lacks in terms of plot development, it compensates with the characters, as they enjoy their own arcs.

No, we don’t get particularly deep personalities here, though we don’t need to do much with the four teens from the first film. Spencer remains the focus, but even he doesn’t get a whole lot of exploration beyond the basics of his unhappiness.

Instead, the movie opts to expend most of its character moments on the Milo and Eddie roles, and that proves to be a wise choice. Because they’re new to us, they come with a lot more room to explore, and the film uses them surprisingly well.

Face it: Level brings Eddie and Milo into the story so it can make lots of old people jokes. It doesn’t mock the elderly, but it takes advantage of the generation gap for a lot of comedy.

That said, the backstory between Milo and Eddie proves more effective than one might anticipate. They add some emotional punch to the tale that doesn’t quite work with solely teen protagonists.

Or maybe I feel happy that these characters exist just because Hart offers such wonderful work when he channels Glover. Hart doesn’t strictly impersonate Glover, but he clearly stretches fat beyond the usual strident “Kevin Hart Character”, and the film benefits from his performance.

Hart tends to deliver Mouse/Milo’s dialogue in an earnest, slightly bemused way that turns even the most mundane lines into hilarity. Hart takes material with zero comedic value on the page and makes it funny – he’s the true highlight of the film.

Hart also handles the role’s dramatic moments well. He shows real gravity in those moments and creates emotion in his understated performance.

As Eddie, Johnson fares less well. He gives us a much broader version of DeVito, and while not bad, Johnson can’t quite hack it. One always senses he’s playing a cartoon character, and the contrast with Hart’s work means Johnson comes up short.

Johnson’s performance also seems iffy when compared to another actor who plays Eddie later in the film. The characters discover a way to change avatars, and a new addition to the cast eventually takes on Eddie.

This version of Eddie seems cartoony as well, but the actor in question proves much funnier than Johnson. This performer also handles Eddie’s emotional arc better and seems considerably more satisfying than Johnson.

At least old Dwayne does fine in the movie’s many action scenes. These sequences work very well, as the film’s outlandish videogame dynamics allow it to create a bunch of impressive moments.

I like the way Level integrates videogame-style challenges, and these mean we get some crazed but thrilling sequences. They come across as fun and exciting.

I will say Level loses a little steam toward the end – partly because we just never care about Jurgen as the big boss – and the way it leaves open the door for another flick might inspire groans. Still, the film offers an awful lot of thrills and comedy, so expect a delightful ride.

Tag sequence footnote: a short teaser scene appears early in the end credits.

Odd choice footnote: why did they give Milo and Bethany the same last name? It seems highly unlikely we’ll ever learn they’re related. Milo’s a new character – couldn’t they find him a unique last name?

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus C

Jumanji: The Next Level appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. From start to finish, the movie looked terrific.

Sharpness worked well. Few if any signs of softness occurred, so I thought the film consistently displayed tight, precise visuals. No moiré effects or jagged edges appeared, and I witnessed no print flaws.

To the surprise of no one, the film emphasized the usual orange and teal palette. That said, the movie came with a good array of other hues so the orange/teal wasn’t oppressive. We got a nice blend of tones, all of which looked strong.

Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows offered smooth, clear visuals. I felt wholly impressed by this stellar presentation.

Just as good as the picture, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack added a lot of pizzazz to the package. With so much action and havoc, the soundscape enjoyed a slew of chances to come to life, and it did so well.

Various battles and related elements filled the room and zoomed around the spectrum in a vivid, well-integrated manner. Everything connected together in a fluid manner that formed an engrossing circumstance.

Audio quality also succeeded. Music was bold and full, while speech seemed concise and well-rendered.

Effects appeared accurate and dynamic, with terrific low-end. I felt pleased with this exciting soundtrack.

Most of the disc’s extras stem from a slew of featurettes, and Body Swapping goes for five minutes, 30 seconds. It brings comments from producers Hiram Garcia and Matt Tolmach, director Jake Kasdan, and actors Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Awkwafina, and Karen Gillan.

“Swapping” looks at the character, cast and performances, with an emphasis on the way each needed to emulate someone else. A couple decent notes emerge, but much of this becomes happy talk.

Back Together goes for four minutes, five seconds and offers notes from Black, Johnson, Hart, Gillan, and actors Alex Wolff, Ser’darious Blain, Madison Iseman, Nick Jonas and Morgan Turner. This looks at the cast reunion, and it does so in the fluffiest manner possible.

With Level Up, we get a 13-minute, 33-second piece that includes remarks from Johnson, Black, Gillan, Hart, Garcia, Kasdan, Jonas, Tolmach, Wolff, Blain, Awkafina, stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood, visual effects supervisor Mark Breakspear, production designer Bill Brzeski, and actors Rory McCann, Danny Glover and Danny DeVito.

“Up” covers story areas and issues connected to the sequel, sets and locations, cast, stunts/action, effects, animals, and Kasdan’s impact on the production. That’s a good array of topics, but “Up” covers matters in a superficial manner, so don’t expect much substance.

Creating the Scene breaks into two components: “Ostrich Chase” (5:40) and “Mandrill Bridge” (6:45). In these, we hear from Kasdan, Garcia, Breakspear, Johnson, Tolmach, Eastwood, Brzeski, Awkwafina, Gillan, Hart, special effects supervisor JD Schwalm, and visual effects supervisor Jason Greenblum.

As expected, these segments tell us about the components put together to form these action sequences. Though they come with some fluff, they do a moderately efficient job in that regard.

Next we find Rhys Darby Wants to Jingle, a two-minute, 22-second clip. Here actor Darby gives us a comedic bit meant to promote the film. It offers moderate amusement.

Awkwafina Cat Burglar spans one minute, 43 seconds, as the actor brings a goofy discussion of her “burgling” skills. It’s another reasonably fun piece.

After this we find NPC Confessions, a three-minute, six-second clip in which “Jurgen the Brutal” gives us a look at his sensitive side. This becomes another humor-oriented promo clip that sounds more entertaining than it is.

Grow Up fills one minute, six seconds with Gillan, Hart, Awkwafina, Glover, Black, DeVito and Johnson. Here the older actors “teach” the younger ones who to “play elderly”. More comedy for promo purposes, it offers some amusement.

Up next, Telenovela runs one minute, seven seconds and provides Hart, Johnson, Gillan and Black as they give us a Spanish-language ad for the flick. It’s a clever bit.

Trick or Treat goes for one minute, 16 seconds and shows Hart and Johnson as they deal with Halloween. Another promo, it’s the funniest of the bunch.

Another two-part section, Select Scene Pre-Vis lets us view “Zeppelin Battle” (4:54) and “Ostrich Chase” (4:28). These show final film in the top half of the screen and CG pre-visualization shots in the lower half. They bring a good look at the processes.

Finally, a Gag Reel occupies five minutes, 21 seconds with the usual goofs and giggles. Still, the actors improv enough to add some value.

The disc opens with ads for Spider-Man: Far From Home, Charlie’s Angels (2019), Little Women (2019) and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway. No trailer for Level appears here.

As a sequel to a reboot, Jumanji: The Next Level doesn’t teem with originality. However, it offers a fine combination of action and comedy, factors that allow it to become a consistently vivid and engaging adventure. The Blu-ray delivers excellent picture and audio with a long but mediocre set of supplements. Next Level matches well with the prior Jumanji - and actually might work a wee bit better.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 6
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main