Starring Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson, Jungle Cruise is the latest flick to be adapted from a Disneyland attraction, joining the ranks of The Haunted Mansion and the swashbuckling Pirates of the Caribbean saga. The plot follows headstrong researcher Lilly (Blunt) as she travels from London into the heart of the Amazon in search of a mythical tree said to possess magical healing abilities. Accompanied by her snobbish brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall), the pair seek the help of wisecracking skipper Frank (Johnson) to take them to their destination on his beat-up boat
The family outing bears all the hallmarks of a grand blockbuster: danger awaits around every turn, with threats posed by the wilderness and the group’s villainous pursuer (played by Jesse Plemons). Upon watching, influences from Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone and The Mummy are hard to ignore, it’s almost as if the studio has crammed these films together in an effort to create the ultimate action-adventure romp. However, the result turns out flat and surprisingly lacks a sense of adventure.
Much like the theme park attraction, viewers are simply tagging along for the ride as the story drifts towards the next plotline or action sequence. There’s little sense of discovery in how the characters arrive at the revelations they do. Rather, many key points of the narrative are happened upon by dumb luck, or delivered as exposition from minor characters, and that’s not exciting at all.
When the heroes do get a moment of downtime between rapids and a military submarine, there is a genuine attempt made to give them some extra depth, with light shining on gender inequality and sexuality. It’s an admirable gesture, however these moments rarely culminate in more than a few lines of dialogue and (particularly in a revelation relating to one of the protagonists) have little to no impact on the remainder of the film. Although more diversity can only be a good thing in big-budget blockbusters, Disney need to commit further to these points if their inclusion is to mean something.
Jungle Cruise is a somewhat entertaining, though entirely derivative, adventure. It’s nothing audiences haven’t seen countless times before but at least the smorgasbord of eye-wateringly bad puns provides a touch of creativity.
Jungle Cruise is released nationwide on 30th July 2021.
Watch the trailer for Jungle Cruise here: