REVIEW: “Jungle Cruise” – Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt Take On Water But Don’t Sink
Fans of the Disney theme park ride Jungle Cruise know that their enjoyment of the ride heavily depends on which skipper they get. If you are lucky, you get a skipper that is enthusiastic and legitimately funny. With Disney’s “Jungle Cruise”, although it has problems, Dwayne Johnson performs admirably as the skipper in this adventure filled journey.
Jungle Cruise is a tale that was inspired by the classic Disney theme park attraction. It stars Dwayne Johnson as skipper Frank Wolf who leads Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and her brother McGregor (Jack Whitehall) through an adventure down the Amazon rain-forest. Lily is in pursuit of the legendary Tears Of The Moon, which are magical petals that may provide healing qualities that could potentially change the medical world forever. Their quest is hindered by the perils of navigating down the dangerous rivers of the Amazon, as well as being pursued by a German U-boat and its villainous captain.
Jungle Cruise starts off strong and had a lot of potential, but halfway through the film heads into a completely different direction that really ruins the movie. It seems like the writers of this movie were inspired by a number of blockbuster movies from the past. This movie heavily borrows from the likes of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, African Queen, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Avatar, Highlander and probably a bunch of other movies that cant come to mind. I’m sure its not easy to come up with and adventure based on a 15 minute theme park attraction, but for the most part, they did a good job capturing the spirit of the classic Disney theme park ride.
Dwayne Johnson may not be accepting an Academy Awards anytime soon, but he does have very good comedic timing and he is an excellent embodiment of an action hero. As skipper Frank, he does a good job recreating the experience one would have listening to a wisecracking skipper that is found on the theme park attraction. I have to give them credit for not messing that aspect of the story up. Emily Blunt also does a good job as scientist turned adventurer and she can definitely hold her on when it comes to facing any peril head on. I would say that acting is definitely not a problem in this movie at all.
The main problem is that for at least an hour, this is a really fun movie. For some reason, they felt like it was a good idea to give us two movies for the price of one. This movie proves that sometimes that doesn’t always have the best results. I wont give away any spoilers, but it starts off as an action adventure movie, but then turns into a bad science fiction flick. And it’s really a shame because it could have been so much better if the film just stayed on course. With a runtime of 2 hours and 7 minutes, its probably a half hour too long. When there is action and comedic banter, the film is a lot of fun. When there isn’t, the film becomes convoluted and drawn out.
The best CGI is the kind that you never notice. One does really take for granted that when they are navigating around dangerous waterfalls and rapid rivers, those are just some well produced special effects. Where the film does not succeed is with the CGI animals in this movie. They are all just awful. Dolphins, snakes and other animal life distract you from the film because they look so fake. There is a leopard in this film that looks way too obviously CGI. I am sure they could have used a real life trained leopard for the majority of those scenes, but instead opted on spending a ton of money on a special effect that just doesn’t look right. I did want to mention that James Newton Howard provides an excellent musical score for the film.
I think most people who watch the first hour of Jungle Cruise will enjoy it a lot. Unfortunately, a movie isn’t a good movie if just the first half is good. Dwayne Johnson really puts in a good performance. Whether he can save this movie from itself, is another question. There are times it is a great fun family movie, but there are also times it may be a little to dark for smaller children, so keep that in mind if young ones are viewing. Disney could have potentially had a new blockbuster franchise on their hands, but unfortunately this cruise sinks.