Friday, January 21, 2022

Jungle Cruise (2021)


Streaming Service: Disney+
Movie Name/Year: Jungle Cruise (2021)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 127 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Davis Entertainment, Flynn Picture Company, Seven Bucks Productions, TSG Entertainment, Walt Disney Pictures, Zaftig Films, Blitz Film & Video Distribution, Blitz, Forum Hungary, Kinomania, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Argentina, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Germany, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing, Disney+
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writers: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, Josh Goldstein, Michael Green, John Norville
Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramírez, Andy Nyman, Annika Pampel, Chris Ward, Dani Rovira, David Lengel, Emily Marie Palmer, Flanagan John, Ilana Guralnik, Jack Whitehall, James William Ballard, Jesse Plemons, Kalanikauleleiaiwi Jardine, Keith Arthur Bolden, Mark Ashworth, Michael H. Cole, Paul Giamatti, Pedro Lopez, Peter Luis Zimmerman, Quim Gutiérrez, Quintin Tyler Price, Raphael Alejandro, Romualdo Castillo, Ryan Dinning, Sharon M. Bell, Shawn McBride, Simone Lockhart, Sulem Calderon, Veronica Falcón
IMDb Blurb: Based on Disneyland's theme park ride where a small riverboat takes a group of travelers through a jungle filled with dangerous animals and reptiles but with a supernatural element.

Selina’s Point of View:
Jungle Cruise was absolutely delightful.
Sure, it seemed – at times – to be two whole hours of Dwayne Johnson riffing off dad jokes, but I fail to see how that’s a bad thing. As a long-time fan, it’s what I’ve come to expect from him in his comedic parts. He does it well, and there’s nothing wrong with playing to an actor’s strengths.
I loved his on-screen chemistry with Emily Blunt. I find a lot of the actors Johnson works with can seem a bit pale in comparison. He’s just such a huge character, with an immense amount of charisma, that it’s hard to match-up to. Blunt did exceptionally. In some cases, she may have stood out even more than he did. I think the only other movie where I’ve seen that happen was in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) – where Jack Black played an amazing teenage girl.

I’ll admit that Jungle Cruise had a pretty basic plot. I think that was what turned off some of the critics. Still, it was done well and there were moments of shock.
A couple of times, I made an involuntary exclamation. Granted, one of those times was because I forgot what it was rated and thought something decidedly PG-13 was happening in what I thought was a PG movie – but there was an actual twist that caught me off-guard as well. I was impressed.
I think it is important to note that the writers had to work backwards. They didn’t even get to start with an idea. They started with a setting and had to build outwards. That’s not a simple thing to do. Knowing that does allow me to forgive some of the over-usage of tropes.

They did a good job with what they had. The writers not only succeeded in giving a story to fit the ride, but they also made a movie that was memorable and fun to watch. I think they deserve some credit for that.
Jungle Cruise was a great, turn-your-brain-off, forget-the-world, flick. I would absolutely watch it again, and I regret not seeing it in theaters.
Cat’s Point of View:
Jungle Cruise landed at my #4 spot in July 2021’s Top 20 Movies to Look Out For article – only because there was essentially a 4-way-tie for #1.

I had quite a lot of anticipation for this movie leading back to its announcement. The trailers promised quite a fun ride. Then the coronavirus pandemic began cascading delays through Hollywood’s release calendar. Needless to say, I was rather chomping at the bit to watch Jungle Cruise the moment it became available for Disney+ subscribers. (Going to the theater or paying the premium rental price just weren’t in the cards.) I was more than happy to watch it again as a refresher for writing today.
Before I press onward, I do have a confession to make. I’ve never been to Disneyland. I’ve been to Disney World – but only Epcot Center. Thus, I haven’t had a chance to partake of the ride Jungle Cruise was based on/ inspired by. I can’t tell you how well it follows the experience. I can, however, give you an idea (based on IMDb’s trivia) that there are plenty of Easter Eggs throughout for those that are former passengers of Disney’s skippered boat ride.
That being said, much like Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Jungle Cruise is a film that you can enjoy without having had the real-world theme park experience.

I adored the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson (Ballers, Jumanji: The Next Level, Red Notice), Emily Blunt (The Huntsman: Winter's War, Sherlock Gnomes, Wild Mountain Thyme), and Jack Whitehall (The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Good Omens, Clifford the Big Red Dog) as an adventuring trio. The dad jokes from Johnson’s character had me groaning and laughing throughout. I enjoyed the story and this trio certainly elevated the material beyond your run-of-the-mill ride experience. I think I even had a bit of a jaw-drop moment on my first watch-through when the story’s twist was revealed.
Aside from being thoroughly entertaining and a fun popcorn flick for the whole family, there was really only one thing that bugged me. Some of the CGI effects for the supernaturally afflicted conquistadors were a little hinky. For example, Edgar Ramírez (Point Break, Resistance, The 355) is an amazing actor – but half the time his character was on screen, the effects were so distracting that I couldn’t entirely take him seriously. It wasn’t all the time, but it was enough to have me scratching my head in a few places and broke my suspense of disbelief. Aside from that, I was rather happy with the overall effects employed by Jungle Cruise.

Of course, it seems like a lot of the critics are taking things far too seriously. I can only implore viewers to keep in mind that, while the theme park attraction and parts of the film may have been inspired by Walt Disney’s favorite movie The African Queen (1951), this was in no uncertain terms any sort of attempt at remaking the legendary film. Holding Jungle Cruise up to that standard is rather unfair. It’s meant to be more whimsical and fantastical.
I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to give Jungle Cruise a whole-hearted recommendation. If you have access to Disney+, this would be a great addition to a fun evening. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 62%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 92%
Metascore –50%
Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10
IMDB Score – 6.6/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5
Movie Trailer:

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