Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) Review

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

Directed by Jake Kasdan

Based on Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Danny Glover, Danny DeVito

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This time, the adventures continue in the fantastic world of Jumanji, where nothing is what it seems to be. The players must return to the dangerous game; however, their characters have exchanged with each other leaving us the same heroes but with different looks. Moreover, we must find out where the rest of the players are in order to beat Jumanji again.

My Opinion:

I honestly kind of love these new Jumanji films. There aren’t enough good live-action “family” movies nowadays and they fill that gap perfectly. We had so many fun family movies in the 80s! Why do they make so few now? And by good I mean ones that are enjoyable for all ages. A lot of family films are aimed at pleasing only the kids in the audience and they’re a waste of time. Family movies don’t have to be dumb or boring for anyone over the age of 10. I want to take my kid to movies that I enjoy just as much as she does, dammit. And we (and the hubby!) thoroughly enjoyed this and Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.

I’m old. I was an adult when the first Jumanji came out in 1995 so it’s not special to me in the same way that it is to those who were kids at the time. I do like it as I really liked Robin Williams but I think this reboot(?) has been fantastic. And, admittedly, the first one is very dated in that way that so many 90s movies with certain special effects now are. As much as I normally hate reboots, etc, they can sometimes work when they get them right. Those who loved the 1995 film will now have (or soon have) kids they can watch these with and updating it into a video game was a wise choice. But, mostly, the new ones are damn funny. Good writing and a good cast has made for two really good family cinema trips. For me, they took a great original idea and managed to improve on it with these.

I won’t ramble on forever since I have lots of 2019 movie reviews to catch up on. If you liked Welcome To The Jungle, you’ll like this. If for some strange reason you didn’t like the last one, you won’t like this. Yes, it’s essentially the same story again but mixing up the characters was a great way to make this one different from the last. It was funny to see who was better at acting out different people this time. Surprisingly, Kevin Hart was a big highlight as he’s hilarious doing Danny Glover impressions. Spot on! And his bickering with Dwayne Johnson was a delight. I can’t say I really believed Johnson as Danny DeVito, though, and I always love Jack Black but he’s still best as Bethany (Madison Iseman). It didn’t matter too much, though, as it was still funny and there’s an extra surprise in store that I won’t spoil. Oh, and I loved seeing DeVito & Glover for a decent amount of time before getting into the game. I’m ready for this to be a trilogy (and I’m sure that’s likely, as is hinted at in an end credits scene).

My Rating: 7.5/10

Hereditary (2018) Review

Hereditary (2018)

Directed & Written by Ari Aster

Starring: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.

My Opinion:

I always get very excited when there’s a lot of hype about a horror movie. Horror isn’t exactly my favorite genre but I love the rare occasion when one is actually good. And it is a very rare occasion, especially these days. But I LOVED The Babadook & It Follows and was hoping Hereditary would live up to those as it had the same sort of hype. Umm. No. Damn. I was very disappointed. However, there were some things that I liked about it & it’s still much better than the majority of modern horrors.

First of all: Yes, the acting is very good. Yes, I like it when horror films have decent acting like in this and in The Babadook. There’s no reason for horror movies to not have good acting & I wish that more of them tried to have actors of a decent standard. Collette is certainly the standout here in what will have been a very difficult & intense role. Byrne also did very well as her husband who tries to keep things together as did Wolff and the young Shapiro playing her messed-up children. I think the acting in horror doesn’t get enough credit sometimes – I’d hate to have played Collette’s role in this! I think it would psychologically damage me for life. However, I felt no connection to this family. I’m not sure why, as the acting was good. For whatever reason, the movie didn’t have me sympathizing with these characters (which will be a big reason why it’ll get a lower rating from me than I was hoping & expecting). Maybe if the son had been likable to begin with…


I did like the film’s overall vibe at the start. I really liked the creepy dollhouses/miniatures. I liked that the movie seemed to be going for a Rosemary’s Baby thing, which is a true classic. Hereditary was atmospheric and the sense of dread was palpable. I soooo wanted to like it more. But, as I said, I didn’t care about the family. And then the story went completely off the rails. Now, I don’t mind when a story goes completely fucking nuts. I love David Cronenberg’s films, for crying out loud. I love crazy! But the ending of this just didn’t work for me. It was messy. The whole story just seemed a little too convoluted. That’s horror for you, though – you either love or absolutely hate how they choose to end them. I almost always hate the endings to horror films. I wouldn’t say that I totally hated Hereditary’s ending, but… Meh. It just didn’t quite work for me. To be fair, however, I’m not sure how it should have ended. It did at least end up in the sort of way you’d expect based on things that happened & were said previously in the film (so pay close attention).

Hereditary is a very good horror film compared to the majority of rubbish modern horror films that are out there. I’ve seen modern horror that I’ve liked much much more than this one but I can see why Hereditary has its fans even if it didn’t quite work for me. The film that it most reminds me of is The Witch (2015), which also had great reviews but which I found well-made yet very disappointing. If you loved The Witch, I think you’ll probably like Hereditary too. I prefer Hereditary but that’s mainly because of ONE scene. If not for that one scene, I’d give this at least half a point less. You know the scene I mean if you’ve seen this! That scene was totally unexpected. Well, no… Not entirely unexpected as it was obvious something was going to happen where it did. But it was a ballsy scene and changed the way you thought things were gonna go based on the marketing. So, yeah – an extra half a point at least for a horror movie having a scene that actually managed to surprise people.

My Rating: 7/10

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017) Review

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017)

Directed by Jake Kasdan

Based on Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale, Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Ser’Darius Blain, Morgan Turner, Colin Hanks, Missi Pyle

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set twenty-one years after the first film, the film follows four teenagers who are transported into the video game world of Jumanji, and playing as the characters they chose, must beat the game in order to return home. The film is also a tribute to Robin Williams, star of the original.

My Opinion:

I’ll be honest – I really liked this movie. It was exactly what I was in the mood for the other day. I needed a fun, chill-out, popcorn movie.

The first Jumanji isn’t exactly near & dear to my heart as I wasn’t the right age for it when it came out (I was in my damn 20s already. Shit I’m old). It’s a good family classic, though. I watched it again a couple of weeks ago with my daughter to refresh my memory. Sheesh – I can’t say it has aged all that well. How terrible did those monkeys look?! Even the kid commented on that. However, she absolutely loved the film. I was surprised. So the story and the characters stand the test of time even if other things about the movie aren’t doing so well now.

As I like but don’t have some kind of huge childhood affection for the first film, I had zero issues with them updating the story for current times. I thought they did a really good job adapting it to a video game this time around and I actually prefer this film to the first one. But don’t tell my kid that – she still loves the first one much more. The story just feels far less messy in this one plus I enjoyed there being a lot more humor. And penis jokes. Lots of penis jokes! But as I’m an old woman with a Beavis & Butthead sense of humor, I appreciate a good penis joke.

The teenagers were all fine in this but we don’t spend loads of time with them as they become their avatars in the game. The avatars (Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart & Karen Gillan) were great. I’ve not seen that many Dwayne Johnson films but I can say that this is the most I’ve ever liked him in a movie. He was very funny, as was Karen Gillan. There’s this whole flirting scene involving Gillan & Jack Black that’s pretty damn hilarious. Love him or hate him (I love him), Black seems to be having a lot of fun in this film and Kevin Hart also does well as his usual Kevin Hart self. You know what you’re gonna get with Black & Hart, though, so the bigger surprise was how funny Johnson & Gillan were.

Yeah, I really liked Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle. As the kid gets older, I’m enjoying seeing more of these family films that are actually entertaining for the whole family instead of just the kids. But with penis jokes. Beware the penis jokes! I think this movie is aimed a bit older than the first Jumanji.

My Rating: 7.5/10

It looks like this is my last review of 2017. Hope you all have a fun New Year’s Eve! See you in 2018 with my end-of-year Best Of 2017 lists, starting tomorrow.