There’s been a few Disney films based on rides, famously Pirates of the Caribbean being the biggest and most successful one but also The Haunted Mansion, Tomorrowland, Tower of Terror and The Country Bears. With PotC floundering abit after the more recent installments did well enough at the box office but struggled with ratings from critics and audiences, it made sense for Disney to have a look at what other baskets they could put they’re many many eggs into, and it just so happens that this time they have the charm of Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.
Jungle Cruise follows Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and her brother, MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) on their quest through the Amazon jungle to find Tears of the Moon with the help of boat guide, Frank (Dwayne Johnson), while having to deal with everything the jungle throws at them.
It’s interesting that this film will always get spoken about in the same breath as PotC as it very much feels like an extension of those last 2 Pirates films that we got. It’s a fun adventure film. I’ve been crying out for more adventure films in the vein of Indiana Jones and The Goonies for years just as it’s a genre we don’t get much of especially from the big studios who are happy grinding away at their universes. It makes sense that Disney would be the ones to try something like this given the fact they own PotC and Indiana Jones, and also have the brand recognition to try something “new”. Not completely new, being based on a ride, you just stick that name on it, and do some references to the ride (The Rock’s opening scene is ripped straight from the ride) and people will have some nostalgia for it, if the Disney name wasn’t enough on it’s own.
The biggest strength of this film is the cast. Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson we know what to expect with both of them. Emily Blunt might be the most likable actress working and is consistently great, and she is no different in this film, clearly having a lot of kicking butt and having solid chemistry with both Whitehall and Johnson. Speaking of The Rock himself, he has been in plenty of blockbuster films, especially ones in the jungle, this isn’t the best one he’s in or even his best work, but he is a people pleaser and you get all The Rock you want, and it’s clear he is having a good time and has a love for the ride you can see in the promotion for this film. Jack Whitehall I’ve seen a lot of over the years, mostly being his comedy background (including being the only comedian I have seen live), he’s been trying to make in America for a number of years and I have to say this is the best acting performance I have seen from him, he is perfectly suited to the role, with it being similar to his own upbringing but I imagine being around and working so closely with Emily Blunt helps a lot. He also plays the first openly gay character in Disney, but without saying he is gay, a slow step that will go over the head of most of the younger audiences. Jesse Plemons plays the main villian, who is after the Tears of the Moon to keep his army alive, Plemons stole the show in Game Night and was good in The Irishman, and like Blunt has been consistently good for a few years. Apart from Plemons, there are a few side villains who don’t add much to the film apart from a little backstory and different problems for our protagonists to solve.
Once again the biggest problem is the pacing, the film comes in at a decent 2hr7mins, which isn’t too long but considering not much happens for a long period of the film, again its the charm from the performances of Johnson and Blunt that keep the film moving a long and enjoyable enough to have a good time. The director, Jaume Collet-Serra has done a few films of note including The Orphan, but more notably 4 different Liam Neeson actions films, as well as The Shallows and Goal II: Living the Dream. A big mix bag, but mostly on the positive side, which is good news for DC as his next project is next year’s Black Adam.
Overall, Jungle Cruise is a solid adventure film, another weird one for Disney+ cos it feels much better to see this type of film on the biggest screen possible to fully appreciate it. Could it have been better? Probably, but I would still watch another one of these purely from the chemistry of the main stars alone and that it offers something different to the other summer blockbusters.
What did you think of Jungle Cruise? and did you watch it in the cinema or on Disney+?
I still have a couple more films that I’ve seen yet to review (Old and The Forever Purge) as well as spoiler review for The Suicide Squad coming up soon so look out for those by liking on Facebook and following on Instagram @floodersfilms