Directed by Jaume Collett-Sera (Unknown), Jungle Cruise is a mix of epic adventure and supernatural scares as rugged adventurer Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt – Edge of Tomorrow) goes against the norms of World War II society and sets about solving the mystery behind the ‘Tears of the Moon’ legend.
In a bid to solve the mystery that her father failed to achieve Lily sets off to Brazil with her reluctant brother, MacGregor (Jack Whitehall – Mother’s Day), to head up the Amazon and solve the mystery using her father’s map. On arrival in Brazil they quickly find talented river captain and part-time scammer Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson – Moana), who is only too eager to take the job of carrying them up river if it means he can escape the clutches of shrewd businessman Nilo (Paul Giamatti – Gunpowder Milkshake), who is coming after the money that he is owed.
However, Lily and MacGregor are not the only ones eager to solve the mystery and hot on their heels is the evil Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons – The Irishman) who has recruited the undead, led by the warrior Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez – Point Break), to help in his mission to solve the mystery and use the magical tree’s petals to help Germany win the war.
Jungle Cruise is certainly a fun film to watch. It takes the best elements of films like Indiana Jones and Jumanji and mixes it with a definite Pirates of the Caribbean supernatural vibe. Then to top it off the characters of Lily and Frank are reminiscent of the roles played by Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in the Oscar-winning epic The African Queen from 1951.
While the supernatural scenes created by Collett-Sera and his team of screenwriters are entertaining and suspenseful they do rest heavily on things that we have all seen before in other Disney films. The key to the film working though all comes down to the amazing acting performances of its leads.
Dwayne Johnson mixes comedy and action together brilliantly well here like he has done in films such as Jumanji while he shares a definite on-screen chemistry with Emily Blunt, who re-creates some of the strong performances of some of the Hollywood greats like Hepburn and Fay Wray in a role that she seems like she was born to play. Like Johnson she is only too happy to deliver the odd witty line while also not afraid to put her body online in some pretty amazing stunts.
These two are also well supported by Jack Whitehall who seems to enjoy stealing the odd laugh or two as he portrays the clumsy and terrified sidekick while Jesse Plemons puts his acting skills into overdrive as he gets to play the overzealous villain. Once again Plemons shows why he is one of the most under-rated actors in Hollywood at the moment.
Watching Jungle Cruise does feel like an adventure for the whole family, although parents should be aware that some of the supernatural themes may scare small children. Still, the screenwriting team does more than enough to provide some cheap laughs for younger members, plus a very cute animal sidekick for Dwayne Johnson, while older audience members are going to love the fact that the film is a definite throwback to some of the best action-adventures that Hollywood had to offer during its Golden Age.
Spectacular special effects and a suspenseful storyline are further enhanced by Blunt and Johnson putting in some of the best performances of their careers and together this recipe has created a film that is guaranteed to become yet another family favourite from Disney.
Jungle Cruise is now available on Disney+ and will be released in Phuket cinemas at a later date.
David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus