Soundtrack review: Jumanji: the next level (Henry Jackman – 2019)
“Jumanji: The Next Level” is a 2019 American fantasy adventure comedy film directed by Jake Kasdan, and co-written by Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg. It is the third installment in the Jumanji franchise, and a direct sequel to the 2017 film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain and Madison Iseman reprsining their roles from the first film, while Awkwafina, Rory McCann, Danny Glover and Danny DeVito also join the cast. The film’s plot takes place three years after Welcome to the Jungle, in which the same group of teenagers, along with an old friend and two unwitting additions, become trapped in Jumanji, where they find themselves facing new problems and challenges with both old and new avatars, while having to save the land from a new villain in order to escape. The music was composed by Henry Jackman.
I am a fan of these new Jumanji movies, they are a lot of fun. I am also a fan of Henry Jackman, sometimes. For the past 10 years of so he’s had a strange streak for me, writing great scores for obscure or low-profile movies and missing the mark completely on blockbusters. I think since the days of his memorable themes for “X-Men: First class” I’ve been looking for a solid effort for him for a franchise.
And what do you know, the opening cue takes me right to my favorite adventure sound, rich, orchestral, with the bold brass section to announce the heroes and a darker motif to let me know that there are villains as well. It’s a shout out to the golden age of adventure film scoring but I’ve been fooled before since this is the “Jumanji suite”; more and more as of late scores open with a best of montage, a suite that it’s truly memorable but when the music is more diluted afterwards it might not feel the same. As expected, the music tones down as the story truly starts but it’s still light and fun. There’s a fresh and sunny optimism in the beginning of this album that’s quite infectious.
I like how the composer delimits the real world from the Jumanji world in his music, going from carefree to suspenseful so even the one who listens to the score without seeing the movie would now when the switch happens. I usually am not one for comedic scores, but Jackman cleverly adds his adventure spice and keeps me invested. I like how the new world is presented with broader orchestral motifs. Then I get a cue like “The tale of Jurgen the Brutal” and I remember how in the last few years, Dwayne Johnson’s other composer of choice, Andrew Lockington has been the king of old school adventure scoring. He seems to have a competition now. I love the background screams on this cue.
As I said while I was enjoying the suite, the diluted version is a bit too diluted for my taste. There are bits and pieces of adventurous brilliance but also filler moments in this score which could have benefited from a shorter run time. What I will say is that no matter how the score sounds at times, Henry Jackman never strays away from the orchestral sound, he never cheapens the music or takes the easy way out. I am sure there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this score and you will surely get your adventure music fix. Including the occasional background screams.
Cue rating: 77 / 100
The Jumanji suite
The tale of Jurgen the Brutal
Attack of the Mandrills
Bravestone to the rescue
Beyond the clouds