director: Jaume Collet-Serra (unknown, orphan)
starring: emily blunt, dwayne johnson, jack whitehall and edgar ramirez
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Dr. Lily Houghton enlists the aid of wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff to take her down the Amazon in his ramshackle boat. Together, they search for an ancient tree that holds the power to heal - a discovery that will change the future of medicine.
Two of my go to movie franchises that I adore for their adventurous, popcorn kinda movie fun are Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz’s The Mummy (just don’t mention Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) and Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
So when I saw the promo material for Disney’s Jungle Cruise it instantly became one of my most anticipated films of 2020...which moved, like every other big film release, to 2021. While Disney’ Jungle Cruise doesn’t quite reach the heights of The Mummy or the Pirate franchises it’s still a pretty darn entertaining film. With two big stars like Johnson and Blunt, jokes cracked thick and fast and some swashbuckling, ancient riddle solving action, Jungle Cruise is cinematic cruise you need to board.
Disney’s Jungle Cruise is a rollicking thrill-ride down the Amazon with wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff and intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton. Lily travels from London, England to the Amazon jungle and enlists Frank’s questionable services to guide her downriver on La Quila—his ramshackle-but-charming boat. Lily is determined to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities—possessing the power to change the future of medicine. Thrust on this epic quest together, the unlikely duo encounters innumerable dangers and supernatural forces, all lurking in the deceptive beauty of the lush rainforest. But as the secrets of the lost tree unfold, the stakes reach even higher for Lily and Frank and their fate—and mankind’s—hangs in the balance.
Jungle Cruise borrows handsomely from every kind of similar film from Indiana Jones to Herge’s Tintin and even all the way to African Queen. But even though it has a hint of familiarity to it, this film still has its own unique style. From the bad dad jokes to Johnson’s Frank wrestling a jaguar in what is essentially a pub brawl, Jungle Cruise has a heck of a lot to offer.
But it’s in the quieter moments that Jungle Cruise loses a bit of steam. While Blunt and Johnson have great bantering chemistry it doesn’t quite translate into romantic chemistry. And although Lily’s purpose to attain the tree’s life giving properties is admirable (it’ll save millions of lives and revolutionise medicine forever) it doesn’t feel like a particularly personal or gotta save the world mission narrative drive like other films of its ilk.
That being said, Jungle Cruise is stacked with great action sequences, beautifully CGI rendered scenes, hilariously bad dad jokes, rip roaring slapstick comedy and a heck of a lot of fun. Blunt and Johnson are the stars of the show and their friendly banter brings a lot of the joy into Jungle Cruise. Jack Whitehall is brilliant as Lily’s brother playing a hybrid mix of himself, his father (watch some of his journeys with his father in Netflix's Travel's With My Father and you'll get what I mean) and John Hannah’s Jonathan in The Mummy. But Whitehall more than holds his own with the superstars of Johnson and Blunt proving that he has the goods for bigger Hollywood productions.
With two big stars like Johnson and Blunt, jokes cracked thick and fast and some swashbuckling, ancient riddle solving action, Jungle Cruise is cinematic cruise you need to board.