To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Jungle Cruise is a fantasy adventure film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra based on the Jungle Cruise riverboat attraction located at Disney theme parks. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Édgar Ramírez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti. Set during the First World War, the story follows riverboat captain Frank Wolff as he transports British scientist Dr. Lily Houghton, and her brother MacGregor up the Amazon River on a mission to locate the Tree of Life, which flowers are believed to possess healing powers. While on the voyage they must endure the wrath of undead Spanish mercenaries and an Imperial German prince who is also in search of the tree.
What works about Jungle Cruise is the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. They are really good together and their charisma and charm carry this film. The film feels like an amalgam of different action movies of the 80s 90s and 2000s. There are a lot of similarities with the Indiana Jones, The Mummy, and The Pirates of the Caribbean franchises. With the trio of protagonists going to an exotic location for research purposes only to end up on an adventure and effectively saving the world. The fact that Jungle Cruise is based on a Disney park ride is felt throughout the film. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously. The director makes the action as bombastic as possible. There are big explosions, drawn-out chases, and of course water everywhere. I can only imagine what watching a film like this would feel like in a 4DX theater.
Dwayne Johnson lives up to his moniker as franchise Viagra as he enhances just about every film he’s in. Listening to Frank’s awful dad jokes and enduring his scoundrel-like nature is made possible by Johnson’s perfect timing and impeccable delivery. His character is even given a decent backstory that makes him more relatable. The same can be said for Emily Blunt as her acting knows no limits. She plays off of Johnson’s cues and interjects a fearlessness into Lily that is expected of any adventurer. Very fitting for someone willing to travel by water even though they can’t swim. She has a chip on her shoulder since she is a woman doing what is considered a man’s work. Even the fact that she wears pants is a running joke in the film. In the end, it is the relationship these two characters share that saves the entire experience from being awful and that could have easily been the case with this film. Just watching them together on screen makes the entire movie a fun joy ride to be had. Jungle Cruise feels like a summer blockbuster and you can overlook all the flaws because you’re simply having a good time. That is what you want to go to the theater for during the summer. So you want to enjoy popcorn, cut your brain off, and watch a fun movie.
There is an issue in this film that I did not care for. Once again, Disney has included a gay character in the film but they don’t quite say that the person is gay. In this instance, Lily’s brother MacGregor tells Jack that he would have been disavowed from his family because no woman would ever be right for him to marry. Now the audience can tell this character is supposed to be gay, but Disney doesn’t want to outright say it. And I think that is just pandering to a crowd instead of going all in and adding an openly gay character to the movie. Another issue with this film is the atrocious CGI. It looks like you’re watching a video game whenever an animal or undead Spanish soldier comes on screen. Yes, all of the animals you see look fake and it makes me long for when films had mostly practical effects. Using puppets for these animals would’ve worked out better I believe. It is irredeemable for a film that was pushed back a year to still have this bad of CGI. That is probably why they decided to simultaneously release it to Disney+ because they didn’t care. There are a few potholes concerning the villains and we didn’t necessarily need both the German Prince and the undead Spanish mercenaries. We don’t understand what either is saying half the time because when they speak in their native language there are no subtitles. The film runs a tad too long they could’ve easily shaved 15 to 30 minutes off giving a tighter running time. Lastly, actors such as Paul Giamatti and Édgar Ramírez feel wasted in their limited roles. Actors of their calibur should have been featured throughout the entire film.
Overall the Jungle Cruise is a solid adventure for the whole family to enjoy. I give Jungle Cruise a Solid 6.9/10. While it does not measure up to even the worst Pirates of the Caribbean film, it is a nice effort by Walt Disney Studios. I am interested in seeing a sequel if they can make it work as long as they bring back Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in the lead roles. There are many more jungles around the world for these characters to explore.