When it comes to blockbuster escapism and larger than life action, Walt Disney Pictures is the studio you can count on to transport you to bold new worlds filled with adventure, thrills, comedy and romance, and their latest blockbuster Jungle Cruise, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt is one very fine cinema event and is the perfect movie event that we’ve been waiting for.
Set during the early 20th century, riverboat captain Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) transports British scientist Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), and her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall), on a mission into a jungle to find the Tears of the Moon, which is believed to possess healing powers that could be of great benefit to modern medicine. All the while, the trio must fight against dangerous wild animals, a hot and deadly environment, and a competing Imperial German expedition that is determined to find the tree first.
Set deep into the mystical corners of the Amazon jungle, Jungle Cruise is a film that was made for the big screen and this is blockbuster entertainment at its finest. Everything you love about Walt Disney Pictures unique frame of storytelling can be found in this movie and director Jaume Collet-Serra makes this one big, bold and epically cool to behold. Telling an engaging story that draws on mythical forces, undead conquistadors, and a race to find a potent power that could either save the world or damn it, Collet-Serra is in his element with Jungle Cruise as he handles a heartfelt story of adventure and pure escapism and pairs it with blockbuster visuals that will make you watch on in awe.
Jungle Cruise is a classic swashbuckling tale in every regard and audiences seeking adventure will be very pleased with what’s presented on screen here. In terms of its tone and style, I very much likened this film to classic adventure tales such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Goonies and Hook, and it’s a picture that has a quintessential feel-good vibe to it. The visuals are marvellous to look upon, and Collet-Serra draws upon the tropical colours of the Amazon to give this film a unique look and feel, and you can also be certain that danger awaits at every turn. It’s been some time since we’ve had a film of such high adventure fun, and audiences will feel a great feeling of nostalgic joy with this feature. And there’s some very clever narrative reveals that will completely take you by surprise.
Leading the journey in Jungle Cruise is Hollywood superstar Dwayne Johnson as intrepid skipper and somewhat smooth conman Frank Wolff. On his last legs and with few opportunities he takes a part in Dr. Lily Houghton’s quest to discover the mystical Tears of the Moon. As always Frank is a quintessential Johnson character, but he also takes a nod from the legendary Humphrey Bogart with this performance as a can-do man of action and sly charmer. Johnson also makes Frank a bit of a joker and his ‘dad jokes’ in this one are utterly legendary! But there’s more to Frank than meets the eye, and Johnson levels some serious dramatic revelations as his story unfolds before us. Johnson also has terrific chemistry with co-star Emily Blunt and these two are a very cool pair up on screen together.
Taking on the gauntlet to find the Tears of the Moon, and bring a new understanding of medicine to the world, which in the process could save countless lives is Emily Blunt as Dr. Lily Houghton. And her’s is a pitch-perfect performance. Lily is a can-do adventurer, a woman who defies the standards of her era, such as adopting pants instead of a petticoat and skirt and charging headfirst into the Amazon and the adventure that awaits. As always her performance is spot on here, and her talent for stunt work is made present very early on and she roughs it up good alongside Johnson as they take on German mercenaries, undead conquistadors and the dangers of the jungle itself. She’s perfectly matched beside Johnson and their chemistry together is a major part of how much fun and entertaining this movie is.
Providing a key level of backup in this film is comedian Jack Whitehall, who as a longtime Disney fan has his dream made true in this project and he’s utterly hilarious as Lily’s leisurely dandy brother McGregor. Acting as his sister’s assistant, confidant and somewhat ‘advisor’, McGregor is pulled into her quest to find the Tears of the Moon…and he really doesn’t suit the jungle at all. Whitehall’s own unique offbeat style of comedy is well suited to the part of McGregor and he offers up plenty of humorous quips that audiences will find themselves going giddy over. Whitehall is very much the heart of this film, and his performance as McGregor marks him out as an absolute scene-stealer.
From its opening scene to its closing credits, Jungle Cruise is a straight-up fun rollercoaster of a blockbuster film. It’s big, boisterous and utterly transportational and audiences who are seeking adventure and escapism will be well pleased with what they get to watch here. It all comes together on this film. Direction, casting, cinematography, costuming, stunts, visuals effects and score, and the result is a grand old time at the movies. I myself found it to be a very nostalgic watch as it brought back memories of the grand escapism of the movies of my youth. From the start, we’ve known that Johnson, Blunt and Whitehall had an incredibly fun time making this movie, and you can feel this enjoyment and enthusiasm within the finished film. Jungle Cruise is a film that makes you feel good and I’m certain that it will spark a whole new generation to seek the call of adventure as well.
For those seeking an adventure, I highly recommend you hop onto Jungle Cruise because this is a film filled to the brim with action, romance and adventure and it makes for a rollicking good time at the movies.
Jungle Cruise arrives in cinemas on July 29 and will stream on Disney+ with Premiere Access from July 30.
Image: Walt Disney Pictures