Right off the bat, one might watch the trailer for this and wonder, after seeing how the previous film ended, how in the blue hell the game is back. But can I just say that we can't act like the game didn't already make an inexplicable return in 'Welcome to the Jungle'? Not only that, but it somehow turned itself into a video game. I think it's safe to say that Jumanji, the game, is just kinda unstoppable. If it wants to exist, it just will. It's fiction, but it's still kinda lazy from my perspective.
With that little nitpick out of the way, the more important aspect of this are between two things - the characters and how well they do impressions, and what the characters take away from their experience in the game. I'm impressed that in this chapter they didn't just repeat the same characters with the same problems, or even introduce new similar characters, spinning its wheels. This plays with the concept of old, out of their league guys attempting to play a game. Let's face it, my generation, as kids, thought the idea of grandparents picking up a video game was kinda laughable (turns out it's not. My Grandpa LOVED 'Duck Hunt'!) At the same time, the main plot centers on them instead of the previous characters, but still gives the previous characters some good screen time.
One year after the events of the previous film, Spencer (Alex Wolff) and Martha (Morgan Turner) are taking a break, with things not feeling quite the same between them. Their other friends Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain) and Bethany (Madison Iseman) have also gone their separate ways, but the group gets together for a reunion, missing Spencer. They soon discover that he doesn't show up, because he had gone back into Jumanji in hopes to feel that unstoppable feeling of being Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) again.
Reluctantly, the trio heads back into the game to rescue Spencer, but a glitch pulls in Spencer's Grandfather, Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his old business partner, Milo (Danny Glover), who are feuding over their past. Martha and Fridge also get pulled back in, but Bethany is left behind and has to somehow find her own way in. While Martha reprises her role as Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), Fridge gets (suggestively) stuck as Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black), and to some, that might be a bit uncomfortable. Meanwhile, the role of Bravestone is taken by Eddie, and Milo ends up as Franklin 'Mouse' Finbar (Kevin Hart).
The stakes are raised on the mission to find Spencer, as Eddie and Milo are completely inexperienced gamers who can't seem to take the hint that they've somehow been sucked into a game. I'm not gonna lie, it's a running gag that gets kinda old kinda quick, mostly based on Eddie's cluelessness. The game itself has also evolved, giving the characters new strengths and weaknesses, and bringing things to "the next level".
Now, let's talk about one thing that make 'Welcome to the Jungle' so surprisingly fun - the impressions. I thought everyone did a respectively good job with their given personalities, but Kevin Hart didn't reach too far for his character. This time around, things felt a bit opposite. I didn't think The Rock did so great as DeVito, but I felt like Kevin Hart did very well as Danny Glover. Karen Gillan reprises the same role, but gave so much more in the first film. And then there's Jack Black impersonating Ser'Darius Blain. As I mentioned before, it's suggestive. I didn't personally feel like he went way over the top with it, but I can't speak for those who it may affect more, either.
The best performance in this movie, though, goes to Awkwafina as Ming Fleetfoot, who has to heavily impersonate both Alex Wolf and Danny DeVito, and she does a great job with both of them. This performance alone shows how flexible she can be, and it puts her on a list of up and comers I wanna keep an eye on. Some may remember her from 'Oceans 8' or 'Crazy Rich Asians', but I get the impression this performance is gonna put her name out there a bit more than it already is.
Putting it all together, it works pretty well as a fun sequel, where you can see all of your favorite characters again. But the first of them is just far superior. It's in the same realm as 'Ghostbusters 2' or 'Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze'. There's enough fun to be had here, but it's got nothing on its predecessor. It's really more like an obvious cash-grab, but they do just enough to make it entertaining.