Jumanji: The Next Level offers fast and funny escapist romp

Jumanji: The Next Level (12a), (123 mins)

Jumanji: The Next Level
Jumanji: The Next Level

Calling it Jumanji: The Next Level is probably overegging it just a bit. Really, it’s Jumanji: More Or Less The Same Level With A Few Nice Additions.

But the fact is that that’s still good enough for a genuinely fun couple of hours, hot on adventure and full of laughs. The best thing is that it is consistently funny, often very, very funny – which is what you’d expect from a cast including Jack Black. Oddly, the best comedy comes from Dwayne Johnson.

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What's coming up at Cineworld ChichesterThe great virtue of the first Jumanji reboot was that it was so likeable. The film-makers have recognised that by giving us pretty much more of the same, with a few variations just to give us the impression that we are watching something slightly different.

In Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), four high-school students, Bethany (Madison Iseman), Spence (Alex Wolff), Martha (Morgan Turner) and Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) were catapulted into the VR world of the Jumanji video game where they ended up variously as Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black.

This time, lonely and nostalgic for past adventures, Spence goes in there deliberately, forcing his mates, with not too much reluctance, to go back in themselves to rescue him.

But somehow the magical wires get crossed. One of them gets left behind and instead they drag in grumpy grandpa Eddie, played by Danny DeVito, and Eddie’s estranged old mate Milo, played by Danny Glover – played by DeVito and Glover, that is, until they are played by someone else in the virtual world.

And therein lies much of the comedy… even if it does take a while to sort out just who precisely is who this time round until it all changes again. Black is great as Fridge, but even better fortunately as Bethany.

What's coming up at Cineworld BrightonThe action sequences come thick and fast as they all try to find the special stone which will send them all back to the real world, and the pace doesn’t dip for a moment... nor does the lightness of touch which makes the whole thing so appealing. It’s pure escapism, but escapism of the best kind. Great fun and witty, it romps along beautifully - and even manages to be just a little bit poignant at times.