Jungle Cruise – Movie Review

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Like me, you would be forgiven for not being excited about Jungle Cruise. I love Disney as much as the next person, but it’s not the ride I was clamoring to see a movie on. Also, while I do appreciate and appreciate Dwayne Johnson and what he does, his performances aren’t exactly memorable. It wasn’t until Juame Collet-Serra and Emily Blunt were announced as part of the project that I got somewhat interested.

I ordered the movie with low expectations, but as always I left any preconceptions before reading. The thing I didn’t expect to write was that I liked Jungle Cruise so much that I watched it again the next day. It’s not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it delivers a fun family adventure that clicks in all the right ways.

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Jungle Cruise tells the story of Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), a botanist in search of the mythical Tears of the Moon, a tree with magical healing petals. She is accompanied by MacGregor (Jack Whitehall), her brother and Frank (Dwayne Johnson), the boat captain they hire to take them in search of them. Along the way, they are pursued by the infamous Prince Joachim and a trio of cursed conquistadors.

Collet-Serra, perhaps best known for his work on darker titles such as Orphan and The Shallows, does an admirable job behind the camera and shoots the film in a way that makes you feel like you’re in a amusement park. His ability to show off the diversity of genres and scales raised my hopes for his next feature film, another collaboration with The Rock, DC’s Black Adam.

The performers are all great and do a good job of elevating the material beyond what has been written. Dwayne Johnson is eerily believable as a pun intended captain, as his charm and confidence are perfectly suited to the role. I’m going to have to sit on it a bit longer, but I’m not sure I’ve enjoyed Johnson in a live-action movie more since 2013. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t done anything right since. then, but also a lot of those Skyscraper / Rampage type roles all bleed together, while this one stands out.

Emily Blunt is her usual fantasy self and is the heart of this film. Her relationship with Johnson is a charming one and the fun that she is having fun here jumps on the screen. The same can be said about Jack Whitehall, who goes through arguably the biggest character transformation from start to finish. He blends in perfectly with his co-leaders, is multidimensional, and made me laugh as much as anyone else.

Jesse Plemons just hits the right caricature levels as Prince Joachim. He’s threatening enough for the Disney movie, and I enjoyed the Hans Landa vibes he channeled. However, the other group of antagonists, led by Edgar Ramírez, leaves a lot to be desired. I loved the mythology and world-building of the film, much of which is closely tied to the storyline, but it doesn’t get as much time and attention as it probably should have.

As for the gripes, I thought the VFX was lower than that of a $ 200 million movie. There was more than enough time and money allocated to this project that you would expect it to be better than something at the start. Also, I found James Newton Howard’s score to be a bit too “on the nose”. It didn’t improve the scenes so much, but hit you over the head with some generically stereotypical adventure music. Beyond that, however, I would be really nitpicky.

Overall, Jungle Cruise is funny, charming, and generally a good time from start to finish. I might have been tougher in the past, but after a year and a half a light, old-fashioned adventure movie is just what I needed. It’s not groundbreaking and isn’t without fail, but the performance and directing did more than enough to make it a film that I would happily recommend and revisit.

Rating: 7/10


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