Loosely based on the Disney theme park attraction of the same name, Jungle Cruise is a fantasy adventure movie from director Jaume Collet-Serra. Set during World War I, the film tells the story of a British scientist and her brother, who enlist the services of a riverboat captain to aid them on an important expedition.
In the movie, Dr. Lily Houghton and her brother MacGregor, head into the Brazilian jungle in search of the Tears of the Moon – the mystical petals of the ancient Tree of Life. According to legend, the petals have magnificent healing powers, and are therefore an important asset to mankind – especially during the darkest hours of World War I.
To guide them through the jungle, Lily and MacGregor hire the services of Captain Frank Wolff – a good-hearted and extremely charismatic steamboat skipper. But the trio soon discover they are not the only ones in search of the Tears of the Moon, leading to a perilous journey filled with ferocious creatures, undead conquistadors, and an unhinged prince.
Jungle Cruise stars Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti. The film is in cinemas from today, or if you are a Disney+ subscriber you can view Jungle Cruise in the comfort of your own home (for a fee) through Disney+ Premier Access.
This movie is one of Disney’s biggest non-Marvel releases of the year, and is expected to do quite well this weekend. It is also a film which has been waiting in the wings for quite some time now.
Jungle Cruise was originally scheduled for release in October 2019, but was pushed back to July 2020 to take advantage of the summer blockbuster season. Unfortunately, the movie was then shelved for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but after receiving its world premiere this week at Disneyland, it has finally made its debut. And yes, it was worth the wait.
Jungle Cruise is what you get when you mix Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), with The Mummy (1999), a touch of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), a smattering of The African Queen (1951). It’s loud, action-packed, and rip-roaring fun!
You want gags, slapstick, and dad jokes? Jungle Cruise has it all in spades.
The film also boasts a fantastic cast spearheaded by the three leads, Johnson, Blunt, and Whitehall. The trio are perfectly matched, and bring a huge amount of likeability to the screen.
Johnson in particular excels. Regardless of what movie he is in, Dwayne Johnson is always a bankable player, but here he really brings his trademark charm to the table, in what is one of his best roles to date.
In terms of action, this movie is filled with an abundance of set-pieces and stunts. And as the film is based on a ride, an effort has been made to provide the audience with a snapshot of what it is like to journey on the real Jungle Cruise – including waterfalls, rapids, and everything in between.
Outside of the river-based frolics, the film also finds room for a spot of fun with a cheetah, introduces three creepy-looking monsters, and gives Jesse Plemons the opportunity to ham it up as the movie’s chief villain, Prince Joachim. All-in-all, there’s a good mix of ideas in here and plenty to like!
If the movie has one weakness, it is that it suffers from being a little too long, with at least one superfluous set piece, and a major exposition dump slowing things down. However, whenever it seems as if the film has taken its foot off the gas, Dwayne Johnson cracks out that award-winning charm, and this provides enough of a distraction until things pick up again.
Ultimately, Jungle Cruise is a crowd-pleasing, playful adventure picture, perfect for the whole family. It’s frothy, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and offers an enjoyable ride.
Pandemic permitting, I expect this film to be a hit and to kick-start a franchise. So, if you get the opportunity – be it in the cinema or through Disney+ Premier Access – make sure you hop on board this movie as it takes its maiden voyage.