Movie #222 2021: Jungle Cruise (2021)

When Jungle Cruise was released back in the summer of this year, I’ll admit that it looked fun. I like Dwayne Johnson. I really like Emily Blunt. The trailers looked wacky and entertaining. And yet… I didn’t fancy seeing it in the cinema. Why? This thing is 127 minutes long. It’s a kids’ movie… that’s 127 minutes long. Have you honestly ever heard of a film being that long in this day and age when the target audience is aged between eight and thirteen? Nope, didn’t think so. And that is where Disney+ stepped in and released it on their streaming platform this month. Thank God for them, right? No numb bum from an upright cinema chair, no having to time your pee just right in order to not miss the action; I could watch this from the comfort of my own sofa.

Based on the Disneyland ride of the same name, Jungle Cruise adopts a similar plot to what the theme park attraction possesses. If you can attribute ‘plot’ to a ride, that is. In short, Blunt plays Dr. Lily Houghton, who makes her way to the Amazon to search for a legendary ancient tree with healing powers. On her travels, she recruits cheeky skipper Frank Wolff (Johnson) to take her on her quest and they form quite the unlikely bond as their lives are repeatedly put in harm’s way.

Jungle Cruise (12A) | Falkirk Community Trust

Very few movies need to be this long. As you may recall, I mentioned that before. And guess what? This movie is no exception. Whilst it’s entertaining at least 70% of the time, the scriptwriting leaves a lot to be desired.

Length aside, there are one or two positives here. Positive #1: Emily Blunt. Positive #2: Dwayne Johnson. Even though I didn’t think much – and I never thought I’d say this – of their romantic chemistry (they definitely had a ball making this, but I can’t say they’re quite convincing enough as a couple), each of them as individuals is utterly charming and their friendship was fun to watch. Even Jack Whitehall manages to be less annoying than he’s ever been on UK television, so I can’t complain too much about the casting as a whole.

Jungle Cruise (2021) directed by Jaume Collet-Serra • Reviews, film + cast  • Letterboxd

Visually, I’m 50/50 on this one. The sets, background scenery and props all look very realistic and are a real feast for the eyes. However, some of the CGI and green screens are really quite distracting, unfinished and not always believable. Whilst a lot of effort clearly went into it, you’d think that with such a huge budget ($200 million) they should have been able to iron out these creases.

Now, back to the plot. Obviously, you can’t go wrong with an adventure storyline that undoubtedly has an Indiana Jones/The Mummy vibe. The action sequences are energetic and entertaining, and I have to say that some of the pun-heavy script was pleasantly humorous. Despite that, there are too many antagonists and too many twists and turns. Usually I love a good twist, but some of them are so unnecessary here – 20 minutes of runtime could have so easily been shaved off purely by eliminating just one of them. 

All in all, the first ninety minutes are actually quite a riot. Sadly, by the time it got to the big finale, I’d mostly lost interest. Jungle Cruise is nowhere near as bad as many had touted upon release, but it’s unlikely that I’ll ever think about it again.

Jungle Cruise is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

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