In Jungle Cruise , Disney builds a story around one of their theme park rides in hopes of matching and continuing to milk the success of Pirates of the Caribbean . It probably won’t go that fast with this adventure film, because (the first) Pirates offered more originality, but hey, I forgot my worries for two hours.
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What do you do when you’re just one object away from the quest for something that can change the world, but the sexist society doesn’t even give you a chance to prove yourself? Break in and steal it! dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) has big ambitions: she wants to rid the world of disease. To do this, she has set her eye on the mythical ‘lágrimas de la luna’, a tree whose petals have healing powers. Of course you won’t find that tree around the corner, but via a hellish boat trip to a until then undiscovered cave.
To get there, Lily enlists experienced jungle tour skipper Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) to get her safely across the Amazon. Her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) is also with us. He doesn’t want to leave his sister alone, but since we see in the first scenes that Lily can take care of herself, you quickly suspect that he has his own reasons for fleeing London. And of course Lily isn’t the only one looking. Also Nazi Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) and a few undead conquistadors (yes!) want the petals of the tree for world conquest and lifting an ancient curse that has left them trapped on the riverbank, respectively.
In the plot you sometimes can’t see the forest for the jungle anymore, but in a film like this you really just have to let yourself go (pun intended) through all the twists and turns. The screenwriters certainly do not try to hide the fact that they have obtained the mustard from other well-known adventure films. Emily Blunt’s character is very similar to Rachel Weisz’s in The Mummy , except she’s a botanist, not a librarian. Nazis featured prominently in the Indiana Jones films, which also have an aloof and slightly cynical leading man with a heart of gold. We also saw the undead antagonists and inhospitable circumstances, including in… Pirates of the Caribbean .
While we applaud the idea for this Disney film, as it’s not a sequel or franchise, the story lacks originality. Why not an adventure on a salt flat or a snowy mountain pass? Still, that’s not to say that Jungle Cruise doesn’t have any good points. On the contrary. The story offers an unexpected twist that is amusing.
You already have loads of charisma and likeability with Emily Blunt and The Rock. They’re also both funny and action-ready, and I was quite surprised by their chemistry, no matter how “Kids Allowed” the romance is . A successful piece of casting. Another gem is Jesse Plemons, who seems to be enjoying himself as Prince Joachim. The scene where he tries to communicate with undead bees (don’t think about it!) is one of the funniest in the movie.
A less successful piece of casting is Jack Whitehall. Not because of his acting performance, because the comedian can certainly act (see the British series Bad Education and Fresh Meat ), but because of his character. Disney doesn’t have a very good track record with LGBT+ representation. Then you add a gay character and make it into a rather stereotypical version played by a straight actor. A nuanced LGBT character in a Disney movie, that would be a real twist.
Gracias por la accion
If you can see through that, you might appreciate the things director Jaume Collet-Serra adds. As the director of Non-Stop , The Commuter and The Shallows , he is used to bringing flashy and captivating action, and that certainly benefits Jungle Cruise . You can follow what’s happening well, and the action scenes are well choreographed.
Moreover, some multiculturalism creeps into the film. The Catalan Collet-Serra just lets Spanish-speaking actors like Edgar Ramirez speak their native language, and that’s more valuable every time than brackish accents again. (It’s weird that the word ‘lágrimas’ is mispronounced every time the English-speaking actors, but that’s my professional deformity.) And okay, Jesse Plemons does have a German accent instead of German lyrics, but for a Nazi, we forgive that.
The set design and cinematography reflect the atmosphere of an adventure film, the CGI is definitely okay and bad music by James Newton Howard is yet to be heard. The theme for the film is very catchy.
So Jungle Cruise is far from perfect, but I still had a great time. This is worth your time, especially with children. Maybe I’m contributing to the death of cinema, but hey ho, I can’t always be a value-seeker.
Jungle Cruise is an adventure film that has sought a lot of inspiration from its predecessors, but is still surprisingly enjoyable. The cast is having a great time and it shows. They compensate for the things Disney still hasn’t mastered as a studio: authentic representation and pure originality.