Even though it’s a blockbuster based on a theme park ride that’s filled with bad puns, Jungle Cruise is one insane trip.
Jungle Cruise stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as skipper Frank Wolff and Emily Blunt as Dr. Lily Houghton. Set in 1916, at the height of WWI, Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) is a British doctor who reluctantly teams up with Frank, an expert tour guide of the Amazon. Setting sail on his rickety old boat, they go on a jungle adventure to acquire the petals of a magical tree that will change modern medicine and, potentially, even end the war. However, hot on their heels is the contemptable Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons), a German aristocrat determine to use the petal for his own gain.
In many ways, Cruise feels like a Marvel movie. Filled with witty and charming banter that’s just plain fun, the dialogue pops like the best MCU moments. In fact, there are moments when hearing The Rock banter with Blunt feels like those conversations between Iron Man and Captain America. The chemistry these two have is amazing and just feels so natural. What’ s more, action scenes are also well choreographed and take advantage of the beautiful amazon setting, including all creatures and supernatural elements that are involved. The over-arching supernatural/magical backstory is much more complex than initially expected which was a very pleasant surprise, especially considering it’s based on a fun little ride for vacationers.
Personally, I loved that they were able to take an iconic Disney ride and make it into an intense action movie. As the tour guide of the ride, Frank even shares the same bad puns that you’d hear from the famed tour guides on the Jungle Cruise at Disney World. Featuring all the dangers of the island such as the natives and wildlife, Cruise really makes you feel you’re back in Florida on the ride itself (except, in a strange way, it feels even more immersive watching the movie.)
With an eye on inclusion, Jungle Cruise seems to be one of Disney’s major steps toward “wokeness.” As a woman in the early 20th Century, Dr. Houghton gets absolutely no respect from the scientific community. In addition, her brother McGregor (Jack Whitehall), one of the very few rare gay characters in Disney’s movies, is also ostracized simply for his sexuality., Whereas the action genre is traditionally dominated by straight males, Jungle Cruise utilizes these two characters in a way where that highlights who they were and views them as equal
At the same time, Frank’s character arc is also closely tied with this. Without giving any spoilers, Frank has witnessed the absolute worst of people throughout his life. Broken by the pain of his past, he would rather die than spend another minute alive. However, Lily takes an alternative view. Instead of giving up, Lily sees the horror of this world but actively wants to change it for the better. Despite the frustrations that she sees and has experienced at the hands of a male-dominated society, Lily is committed to fighting for a new future, giving the film a more hopeful edge.
Led by the dynamic duo of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt, Jungle Cruise has everything you want and more from a Disney action movie. Funny and energetic, the film has an adventurous spirit that should entertain all ages. In short, Jungle Cruise is a fun ride.
Jungle Cruise is available in theatres and on Disney+ Premiere Access on July 30th, 2021.