Jaume Collet-Serra's Jungle Cruise is based on the titular Disneyland ride, and our movie encapsulates it on a grand scale. A family-friendly expedition of laughter, thrills, and a dash of heart.
It's 1916, knee-deep in World War I. We follow Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), an ambitious, headstrong woman ahead of her time. She holds the key to uncover a mysterious tree submerged in legend. In need of a skipper, Houghton happens upon snarky and overconfident Frank (Dwayne Johnson). What dangerous voyage lies ahead for this unstable duo?
Easily the best part of Jungle Cruise is Blunt and Johnson's organic chemistry. They bounce off each other perfectly, spitting puns and shady banter.
Blunt and Johnson perform some of their own stunts here. Action scenes are kinetic, fast, and flow smoothly. My favorite scene is near the beginning. It's where Houghton tries to reach Frank's boat while fighting off multiple guys.
Cinematographer Flavio Labiano paints a colorful film with that naturalistic beauty of the Amazons. We mainly see hues of brown, musty green, and hazy yellow contrasted with bright blue skies.
If you're not a fan of CGI, you'll be disappointed. Lots of computerized graphics are used for special effects and entire characters. I'll take practical effects any day, but Disney knows how to craft quality CG. My favorite uses of it are when we see twisted reincarnations of dead conquistadors.
Jungle Cruise has a lighthearted, energetic, and adventurous attitude. Disney keeps things clean and family-friendly. We have a PG-13 rating but nothing offensive or raunchy.
Our cruise isn't without some rough waters. I had issues with Houghton's brother, McGregor (Jack Whitehall). Remember Evelyn's brother from The Mummy (1999)? That's McGregor - whiny, useless, and easily omittable. Whitehall is purely comic relief, though Blunt and Johnson work just fine without him. If he was cut out, nothing would change.
To describe the main villain in three words - stereotypical German madman. Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) wants to thwart our heroes' quest for world domination. Typical. He's played as goofy and maniacal complete with an exaggerated German accent. Joachim is a flat character lacking adequate screen time. You’ll forget he was even a character.
Get comfy as our movie runs for about two hours and 10 minutes. I'd say 10-15 minutes could've been cut. Some scenes go on longer than necessary like recurring gags. And in case you're wondering – no after-credits scene.
MY RATING: 4/5. Jaume Collet-Serra's Jungle Cruise invites you on a funny, thrilling, and adventurous journey through the Amazons. It boasts symbiotic performances by Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson, carrying the movie on their shoulders alone. While not Disney's most memorable film, we escape into a beautiful world with legends waiting to be revealed. A two-hour ride on a family night out.