Whilst not exactly a real improvement on the last outing, The Next Level is solidly entertaining stuff.
“So, where does that leave us, then? Objectively, we’ve run in place for almost two hours and accomplished much the same goals. The Next Level, just like its immediate predecessor, is a frothy and agreeably fun timewaster designed to be swiftly forgotten about soon after viewing. Despite the occasional bells and whistles and Fridge-Shelly’s protestations that ‘this is a whole new thing’ it really amounts to the exact same movie as Welcome to the Jungle except with a different coat of fast-peeling paint. Nothing’s particularly changed, the filmmaking hasn’t massively improved aside from a showier and fittingly janky production design, the plot and mechanics are now riddled with ill-justified holes – you may be wondering why Bethany was initially rejected by the game’s clutches, and you will have to keep on wondering cos the film never bothers to explain why nor how she later gets in anyway – and what depth is here frankly seems unintentional and is really only the bare minimum to get the movie across the finish line.
Yet, I had proper fun, more so than last time. Whether it be due to the thematic undercurrents playing off my baggage just enough to gain a little genuine sentiment, or lowered expectations as a result of a really dire and forgettable year for movies at large, or reoriented expectations for what a Jumanji movie should feel like – the shift from Jumanji to Jungle was pretty radical, whilst Next Level roots itself into Jungle’s comfort zone and adamantly refuses to budge – I exited the cinema properly pleased.”