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Jungle Cruise - Movie Review

Jungle Cruise

Not much has changed since 1955 when the Jungle River Cruise ride was introduced.

The romance of the swashbuckling adventure yarn returns courtesy of the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in Jungle Cruise.  Is it perfect?  Nope.  But watching them come together in this tall tale is pretty fun and really, in a fairly lackluster summer of releases, that’s probably all we can expect from the Walt Disney Company who, bucking trends, manages to make another successful movie based on a theme park ride.

"a fun throwback to the yesteryear of action flicks as we get one rousing set piece after another "


Jungle Cruise is a fun throwback to the yesteryear of action flicks as we get one rousing set piece after another on our way to a mystical denouement that is both unexpected and not fully embraced for its sheer ridiculousness.  The film starts out in epic fashion, but runs out of steam as the effects take over and a bit of the magic is lost.  Is this adventure Pirates Of the Caribbean quality?  Not quite, BUT Jungle Cruise does seem to use The Curse of the Black Pearl as its framework as we travel through the rivers of South America by steamboat and watch a very dangerous jungle pass by on our way to an expected sequel.

Jungle Cruise, directed by House of Wax’s Jaume Collet-Serra, is all about the ghost of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow as his spirit is poking around in almost every frame of this freewheeling, logic-bending, and wisecracking tale of cursed Spanish conquistadors in South America who fall victim to the legend of a mythical tree whose pink petals can cure any illness.  It’s 1916 and we are thick in a Brazilian rain forest with a very punny Dwayne Johnson as our guide.  He’s a lot like a normal version of Jack Sparrow . . . except with a whole lot of muscles and a different style of captain’s hat.

Jungle Cruise, when it comes down to performances, is probably Johnson’s best movie.  His performance is everything it needs to be.  And, honestly, that’s probably why it works more often than it doesn’t.  We have a swashbuckling hero in Frank Wolff (Johnson) who is both mysterious and charming.  He doesn’t take life too seriously.  He’s also not afraid of anything and that has little to do with his massive size.

Johnson pulls off the Bogart look and the swagger through all of it.  From wrestling with wild jaguars to escaping the clutches of rugged mercenaries and avoiding the clutches of Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons), his good nature never wears thin . . . even when his corny jokes annoy all the passengers on board his boat.  We feel assured that he’s up to the task of this adventure.Jungle Cruise

We also have a damsel in not-so distress thanks to Blunt’s portrayal of Dr. Lily Houghton, a Botany graduate who is in possession of an ancient arrowhead which may lead to the mythical tree and confirm her theories on The Tears of the Moon myth.  Lily calls Frank “Skippy” and he refers to her as “Pants” due to her avoidance of dresses.  That’s right.  She sticks out like a ore thumb in this time period.  She (a) wears pants and (b) only needs saving from herself thanks to her willingness to explore even at her and her brother, MacGregor Houghton’s (Jack Whitehall) peril.

And, much like The Curse of the Black Pearl, we also have supernatural bad guys in the form of quasi-possessed conquistadors and a German aristocrat who takes his submarine down the river after the good guys.  Yes, he wants the Tears of the Moon, too.  What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse through the jungle, the river, and a bunch of fake cannibals who are led by a woman named Trader Sam (Veronica Falcón), who winds up unexpectedly helping them escape some crazy attacks from these cursed conquistadors.  

Co-starring Édgar Ramírez, Dani Rovira, Quim Gutiérrez, Andy Nyman, and a sorely underused Paul Giamatti, Jungle Cruise will annoy some viewers with its groan-inducing jokes and its maddening middle (after the epic feel of the rousing opening fades away) and will please others with its Indiana Jones-like swagger, its nods to the original Disneyland ride, and its use of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”.

Jungle Cruise might lose some steam along its route in this cinematic take on Adventureland, but, much like the ride it is based on, it remains FUNJungle Cruise is now playing in theaters and available on Disney+.

3/5 stars

Film Details

Jungle Cruise

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of adventure violence.
Runtime:
127 mins
Director
: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer:
Michael Green; Glenn Ficarra; John Requa
Cast:
Dwayne Johnson; Emily Blunt; Edgar Ramírez
Genre
: Comedy
Tagline:

Memorable Movie Quote: "If you're lucky enough to have one person in this life to care about, then that's world enough for me."
Theatrical Distributor:
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/JungleCruise
Release Date:
July 30, 2021
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: Based on Disneyland's theme park ride where a small riverboat takes a group of travelers through a jungle filled with dangerous animals and reptiles but with a supernatural element.

Art

Jungle Cruise

 

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