In an effort to provide full transparency, I worked on Jungle Cruise in a featured role as one of the marauders at the beginning of the film. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
The idea of turning a Disney theme park attraction into a feature film is nothing new for the House of Mouse. After lackluster attempts like Mission to Mjuars, The Country Bears, and the made-for-TV Tower of Terror, Disney finally hit success with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Jungle Cruise aims to be the next Pirates, both in terms of story and becoming another blockbuster franchise for Disney. While it’s not quite at that level, the film delivers plenty of fun thrills and humorous quips that’ll entertain the entire family.
For as long as anyone can remember, there have been stories of a miraculous Tree of Life somewhere deep within the jungle rainforest whose flowers are said to be able heal any ailment imaginable. Scientist and explorer Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) has spent her entire life devoted to finding the tree, acquiring a detailed map of the jungle as well as an ancient arrowhead she believes will lead her to its location. All she needs now is someone to take her there, and while Skipper Frank (Dwayne Johnson) is far from her first choice, he’s the only one willing to risk the dangers of the river and jungle to go on what he believes to be a fool’s errand. The jungle isn’t the only danger, however, as there are others out there also searching for the Tree and they will go to any lengths to get there first.
Like the Disney ride it’s based on, Jungle Cruise offers an exciting tale of fun adventure and thrills. The film starts off just like the attraction so if you’re into seeing the backside of water then prepared to be wowed. The Rock is wonderful in the role of Skipper Frank. He starts off as just another con man who’s trying to make a living on the river, albeit in mischievous ways, which is why Lily is so reluctant to hire him. Also, the majority of his conversations end in puns, for better or worse. Personally I found him to be hilarious as Johnson and Blunt really work well together on screen. Of course, it wouldn’t be a movie without The Rock if he didn’t show off his muscles either.
Jungle Cruise embraces the absurd and weird. There’s a scene where The Rock goes hand-to-hand with a jaguar in a bar. Under normal circumstances a jaguar would tear any man to pieces but this is The Rock we’re talking about so of course he comes out victorious. There’s also undead conquistadors who have become intertwined with the jungle itself. One for instance has turned into a beehive and can command bees to his bidding leading to the very ridiculous scene where Jesse Plemons must act alongside a CGI bee who tells him where on the river they should be heading. It’s all absurd fun. These jungle conquistadors are led by Aguirre (Édgar Ramírez) who has snakes slithering all throughout his body, and they’re after the Tree of Life to free them from their curse. That undead curse is where the similarities to the Pirates franchise comes in as well. Like the winding river, the story itself is full of twists and turns some of which I honestly didn’t see coming. It can get pretty complicated at times, but The Rock and Emily Blunt always keep things fun and lighthearted.
And that’s the spirit of the entire film. Jungle Cruise offers plenty of action, excitement, and laughs. It’s wholesome family entertainment that’s fun for everyone.
Jungle Cruise aims to be the next Pirates, both in terms of story and becoming another blockbuster franchise for Disney. While it’s not quite at that level, the film delivers plenty of fun thrills and humorous quips that’ll entertain the entire family.