Okay, so I did say that more of these film reviews would be coming your way, and I wasn’t lying to you! I know I had promised that a Dune review would not be far off, but after watching it once, I realised I need to watch it again to comprehend it. So for now, I thought I’d watch something lighthearted and fun because I definitely need those kinds of films after on-call shifts! Haha! Thus you have my review of “Jungle Cruise”, one of Disney’s latest blockbuster films!
“Jungle Cruise” sees intrepid female scientist, Dr Lily Houghton attempting to locate a legendary tree named ‘Lágrimas de Cristal’, whose flower has magical powers to heal any injury. Lily and her brother, McGregor, initially attempt to get the expedition funded by the Royal Society, who laugh them both off. Whilst McGregor attempts to convince the society, Lily sneaks into the Society’s vaults to steal an ancient arrowhead that will lead the way. There she is confronted by Prince Joachim, a German prince who is looking to steal the treasure for himself! Successfully evading him and the Society, the two siblings head out to the Amazon to find what they’re looking for. To get where they need to, they’ll need a riverboat and a driver. In comes, Frank Wolff, a down on his luck skipper who agrees to take them. Danger is never far, however, and Prince Joachim arrives in the Amazon with a German submarine, hellbent on acquiring the arrowhead that Lily has. The protagonists manage to escape and so Joachim looks to get help. Legend has it that initially there were a group of Conquistadors who came to the Amazon in search of the flower but when they attempted to steal the location from the helpful local tribes, they were cursed to always dwell in the river. Joachim successfully locates them and revives them, claiming to share the flower petals with them, so that they may be healed, in exchange for their help. Meanwhile, Lily and McGregor are slowly learning that Frank is not who he says he is, and when he attempts to con them in order to claim the arrowhead for himself, Lily decides that it’s time to go their separate ways. But when an attack from the mythical conquistadors sees even more secrets revealed, maybe the scientist will need all the help she can get to see her dream come true!
So it’s an adventure film in a jungle, there was obviously only one man for the job; Dwayne Johnson. Johnson’s career is an interesting one, because initially as a wrestler he was typecast as this jacked-up violent dude, and now he’s typecast as a jacked-up violent but child-friendly dude. Acting progression has been a little slow, and although I’m excited for “Black Adam”, I find it difficult to critique his acting because characters written for him seem to be fairly one-dimensional. Emily Blunt, on the other hand, has definitely played some complex roles in the past, but Lily Houghton is probably not one of them. I get it, it’s a kids film so perhaps the writers weren’t looking to write layered characters, but still. Topping off the main cast is Jack Whitehall as McGregor Houghton, the comedic character added for the jokes. Surprisingly he ends up being the most developed character out of the main trio! From an acting perspective, not sure this film would even cause the critics to bat an eyelid.
Okay, so it’s probably a little evident that I wasn’t a massive fan of this film. I felt like too many aspects seemed borrowed from other places. The main trio of characters and the storyline felt a lot like “The Mummy”, but there were also moments where it felt like the Indiana Jones films, the Pirates of the Caribbean series and the National treasure films. I know that this was a film that was based on a ride at Disneyland, but that shouldn’t be an excuse, because look at Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion. Those films were decent. I also think a massive aspect of this film feeling like a bad case of deja-vu was that Johnson plays the lead and a lot of jokes have been made that if you’re looking for a protagonist in a jungle-based children’s film then Dwayne Johnson is the man for you. As stated before, that’s a typecast that he should be looking to get out of as soon as he can.
Disney naturally has larger budgets than everyone else, and the film was heavily reliant on CGI for a lot of the effects. These effects, however, were probably the best aspect of the film. From Proxima, the tamed Jaguar to the Conquistadors, the film did not let viewers down on that front! The music was a fairly neutral aspect, in that, there was a soundtrack and it was evident in a lot of the scenes, but I don’t remember any track being that rememberable. Overall, this film felt like a long 2 hours, and after watching it, I can’t say that I was excessively entertained. I’m surprised to learn that a sequel is being made but I guess that’s the advantage of having the backing of a big studio!