Disney’s live action films tend to be a little hit and miss—particularly with the their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise based on the the Disney ride of the same name. So, when Disney announced Jungle Cruise, a new film based on a popular ride at the theme parks, I approached it with cautious optimism. I have to say, the cautious optimism paid off; by going in with extremely low expectations, I came out of Jungle Cruise decently entertained.
Jungle Cruise (2021) is a return to the Indiana Jones style, action-adventure film. Dr. Lily Houghton (played by Emily Blunt) is on a journey to the Amazon on a search for an ancient tree that has legendary healing abilities. In order to find the plant and change the future of medicine, she must enlist the help of Frank Wolff (played by Dwayne Johnson), a veteran skipper of the area. They must survive through the life-threatening rapids and secrets of the forest as a supernatural enemy awakens in an attempt to get to the tree first.
Jungle Cruise is a “just okay” type of family film. There are a few enjoyable quips for parents, but this film’s use of bright colors, outlandish set pieces, and cartoonish/uncanny CGI clearly shows that this film was more directed towards the younger audience. As such, the movie is a decent film for families with younger children, but outside of that, it feels like a poor attempt to cash-grab the Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean fanbases. The performances of Blunt and Johnson are great—their chemistry is phenomenal—but aside from them, no one stood out as particularly memorable and dialogue throughout felt very on-the-nose and conventional. This, in part, is a big reason why the film feels like a carbon copy of a few other Indiana Jones-esque films as you are constantly left feeling like you’ve seen all of this before.
Blunt and Johnson both carried this film to the enjoyable status for me, but unfortunately, their great chemistry couldn’t overcome poor CGI, a so-so script, and a lack of originality. I would definitely recommend the film to families looking for an easy film to throw up on a screen and watch together, and I would recommend it if it randomly popped up on a cable movie channel as the movie-of-the-week. I would not, however, tell someone that they need to watch this film—it is mediocre, at best, and there are too many other great films that have come out this year for me to say go out of your way for this one,
Jungle Cruise is rated PG-13 for sequences of adventure violence.
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