Early reactions to Jumanji: The Next Level praise the Welcome to the Jungle sequel's body-swapping comedy, in addition to its cast's performances. The upcoming film follows Martha (Morgan Turner), Bethany (Madison Iseman), and Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain) as they re-enter the world of Jumanji in order to rescue Spencer (Alex Wolff), who re-built the video game after he and his friends smashed it. However, upon their return, the four discover the game has changed dramatically, and find themselves stuck playing different avatars.
The Next Level adds Danny DeVito and Danny Glover to the equation as Spencer's grandfather Eddie and his friend Milo, who inadvertently follow the others into Jumanji and end up playing as Dr. Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) and Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart). Sony's trailers for the film have emphasized its body-swapping shenanigans in particular, which only makes sense given how essential they were to its predecessor, Welcome to the Jungle, and its own success. And judging by the early reactions, they're also a highlight of the latest Jumanji movie.
Sony held the first Jumanji: The Next Level screening for members of the press last night, ahead of the film's release in December. You can check out the early reactions in the space below.
Body swap movies are the greatest - especially a body swap movie with an A+ ensemble like #JumanjiTheNextLevel. The action is fun but I could watch Johnson, Hart, Gillan and Black play with that format for hours. And now with Awkwafina too! Such a great addition to the group! pic.twitter.com/87TM7nyiQ9— Perri Nemiroff (@PNemiroff) November 20, 2019
The new #JumanjiTheNextLevel has some huge surprises and introduces a LOT of story that’s fun to explore. The best reason to go back into the game? @KevinHart4real channeling Danny Glover. That joke kept making me laugh long and hard! pic.twitter.com/AtHsaAezSw— Sean O'Connell (@Sean_OConnell) November 20, 2019
#Jumanji’s sequel #TheNextLevel does what few sequels can do... make a movie that’s just as good, if not better than the first. They kept what was fun and built on it, with hilarious changes that left me laughing out loud often. Worth seeing #JumanjiTheNextLevel! pic.twitter.com/fRgDwywta2— Maude Garrett (@maudegarrett) November 20, 2019
#Jumanji #TheNextLevel is hilarious. It’s impossible to pick one cast member who stands out above the rest. It has some unexpected heart, too. Big time.— Brandon Davis (@BrandonDavisBD) November 20, 2019
Everyone is so damn funny. @TheRock @KevinHart4real @karengillan @jackblack @awkwafina pic.twitter.com/DMUFh7xAba
While early reactions of this ilk should always be taken with a grain of salt, it's encouraging to hear that (so far) people think The Next Level is pretty funny and takes advantage of its new cast additions, including Awkwafina in an as-yet undisclosed role. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a surprise smash hit for Sony in 2017, going on to unseat the original Spider-Man as the studio's highest-grossing film domestically, and even challenging Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the box office. The Next Level brings back the film's cast (Karen Gillan, Jack Black, and Nick Jonas included), along with writers Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg, and director Jake Kasdan, but it sounds like they found some fun and creative ways to mix up the formula this time around.
Sony's decision to lift the social media embargo on The Next Level so far out (more than three weeks ahead of its release) also bodes well, and suggests the studio is fairly confident about the sequel's critical prospects. 2019 has been a rough year for them so far, between Men in Black: International under-performing and Charlie's Angels flat-out bombing at the box office last week (though Zombieland: Double Tap did moderately well in October). Of course, if Jumanji: The Next Level is anywhere near as popular as Welcome to the Jungle was, then they'll finish things on a much stronger note next month.
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- Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) release date: Dec 13, 2019