In its ongoing quest to turn every one of its attractions into a big-budget movie, Disney brings us Jungle Cruise. Luckily, screenwriters Michael Green (Logan), Glenn Ficarra (Cats and Dogs) and John Requa (Smallfoot) manage to take a short trip and turn it into a cohesive script that director Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan) molds into a fun and entertaining performance. exciting full-length film.
Doctor Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) is determined to debunk the legend of the Tears of the Moon - a plant whose petals can cure any disease or curse. To do this, she and her brother McGregor (Jack Whitehall) travel to the Amazon, where the plant is said to grow. To get to the remote location, Lily must hire a cruiser. Instead of one of the newer ships owned by Nilo (Paul Giamatti), she settles for a rickety boat piloted by Frank Wolf (Dwayne Johnson). But she’s not the only one determined to find the mysterious plant. Pursued by Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons), who wants the plant for his dark plans, Lily, Frank and McGregor must race to find it first. Complicating matters is Joachim's resurrection of the original conquistador Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez), who also needs the plant to lift a curse placed on him by Elder Puka Michuna 400 years ago.
Because it was based on a ride rather than an original story concept, the script could quickly go downhill (think The Haunted Mansion). Luckily, Ficarra, Green and Requa seem to have started with a good idea and worked a cruise theme around it. The result is a solid story full of the adventure, fun, and jokes you'd expect to hear on a real ride. The pace is fast, allowing you to focus on the action. The overall result is like a modern version of the Disney action films of the late 60s and early 70s - entertainment that the whole family can enjoy without getting too moralizing.
Collet-Serra made it clear to the actors that the goal was light-hearted fun. He seems to know what makes Disney classics work and gets the actors to go all in with their portrayals. Johnson doesn't take himself too seriously, and that's when he's at his best. Blunt's portrayal of Lily makes you think of Mary Poppins with attitude: well, a lot of attitude. Plemons steals the show in every scene his Joachim is in - over-the-top and cartoonish; that's all that makes a bad villain so enjoyable to watch at Disney.
The special effects are fantastic, although they are reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean. It worked then and still works today because the characters are different enough to be original. The score drives the action and works well with the stage cinematography. The star of the technical department, however, is the set design. There are huge, precise reminders of the rides the adventurers learned and hints of what changes are to come - all on a more impressive scale than a theme park can offer.
The Jungle Cruise is a fun and active river ride as it should be. Anyone who buys a ticket is sure to embark on an adventure on a two-hour-plus thrill ride.
Tags: Adventures Historical