In Disney World, there’s a ride called Jungle Cruise. On the ride, you leisurely sit in a boat and go down a river, listening to some of daddiest dad jokes to have been joked. And that’s it. That’s the ride. Somehow, someone found inspiration to make a blockbuster movie out of this. And you’re a"boat" to find out if it’s good or not! If you’re planning on watching this movie, you’d better get used to these puns real quick.
The story of Jungle Cruise is about a smart alec captain and a swashbuckling lady who flirt and fight each other as they pursue a treasure that will grant immortality. If this sounds like the plot to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides to you, I wouldn’t blame you. From start to finish, I feel like this movie could have been in that very franchise. From its tone to its mystic atmosphere and to its naval combat, this feels like we sailed into familiar waters. I say this because your enjoyment of this movie will be reliant on your enjoyment of the Pirates franchise. If you enjoyed them, you’ll find this fun (I personally did.). If you couldn’t stand those movies, you will find this one very obnoxious (This was expressed by someone I know who also watched this movie.). I had a good time with it. I’m a sucker for fantastical stories, especially if there’s magic and ancient ruins and other such tropes, and this movie has them all. It’s definitely a story inspired by instead of based on the Disney World ride. All of the elements of the theme park attraction are there, but it’s not near as family friendly. With its action-packed river ride and a script that embraces its goofy premise, it’s an enjoyable time, but much like rides and attractions, it certainly isn’t for everybody.
One of the reasons why I found this movie to be fun is the cast. Dwayne Johnson looks like he’s having a grand ole time in every scene. I don’t know if it’s because of his odd obsession with jungle sets or if he’s thinking about how his daughter will react later when she hears all of his dad jokes. Emily Blunt plays a character I personally haven’t seen her play before, but she certainly seems to be having a good time. This may be because I’m used to Blunt playing much calmer, more wiser characters in the past, but I felt as though the spunky, fearless, and overconfident character that she plays here could have been done better by another actress. She didn’t do a bad job, but the role didn’t feel as natural for her compared to Dwayne Johnson, who admittedly is playing himself as usual. The rest of the cast does a fine job too. Even minor roles, like some of the natives and the antagonists, are directed well and played without any noticeable flaws. The only acting choice I questioned was Paul Giamatti’s accent. I felt as though it was a bit overly exaggerated for, what I presume, added goofiness for the children that undoubtedly watched this. Overall, I had a sense that every actor had fun in their respective roles, and when the actors have fun in the movie, I have fun watching the movie.
I brought up Pirates of the Caribbean earlier, and the similarities between that movie and Jungle Cruise isn’t limited to the story–the visuals are comparable as well, despite taking place in different parts of the world and at different time periods. There’s a tropical feel to this flick, along with hues of yellow, green, and brown. Though Pirates used a slightly different variation of coloring in its visuals, the texture on screen seems to reflect the caribbean adventures on the high seas. Now, I’m not criticizing Jungle Cruise for taking inspiration for its look and visual aesthetics, but I merely wish to convey a sense of caution for parents with children. There are some surprisingly disturbing imagery, despite having a lighter and more childish tone than Jack Sparrow’s escapades, and I suppose that’s one critique I can offer about the visuals: the tone of the movie can go to both ends of the extreme and is a bit jarring. The visuals would indicate that this romp through the Amazon is dark, mysterious, and a bit scary, but the script is chock full of jokes and characters that more or less belong in a cartoon show. The visuals and the fight scenes are very much impressive, but for a movie with gags and goofs aplenty, it feels like the artistry would have served better in another movie aimed towards an older audience.
Disney's latest attempt at adapting one of their rides into a movie will be successful among many viewers but not so much with others. If you enjoy action, fantasy, and Dawyne Johnson being cheesy, then you'll most likely have an enjoyable time here, but I imagine many will take one look at it and pass it by to find something else to amuse them. Jungle Cruise, like the ride it's based on, is an amusing timekiller that lets you sit back, relax, and get a few chuckles in, but once you exit the ride, you’re more than likely not riding it again and moving on to something else that you’ve had on your mind since you stood in line.
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