Dr Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) recovers an artifact that will lead her deep into the Amazon with hopes of finding an ancient tree rumoured to have the power to heal. The only catch is, to travel in the Amazon and possibly changed medicine forever, Dr Lily and her brother will need a skipper and a boat. While Dr Lily is seeking a boatman for hire, she bumps into Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson), a skipper full of one-liners and cheesy dad jokes. At first, Frank has no interest in taking Dr Lily anywhere on his boat but shortly has a change of heart when he discovers she carries the very special and rare artifact.
Not far into their dangerous journey Frank and Dr Lily discover that someone dangerous follows one step behind. Prince Joachim (Jessie Plemons) also wants the tree’s healing power, but his desires are not to use the power for good. The question is, who will reach the secret destination first?
For those who are not aware, Jungle Cruise is not based on any novel or story but, in fact, a well-known ride attraction from Disneyland. So going into this movie, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. Jungle Cruise certainly aims to be an exciting adventure film with familiar elements from other well-known properties such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, The Mummy and one of my all-time favourite films, Romancing the Stone.
What helps this film is the solid chemistry between and performance of both Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. At first, the two characters enjoy giving each other nicknames and stirring each other. Thankfully, as the plot moves forward, there is a bigger focus on both characters development, and I enjoyed seeing them grow and become even more likeable.
Like most Disney films, Jungle Cruise relies heavily on CGI animation and the green screen. This ingredient was hit and miss for me. While most of the visual effects looked amazing, some moments felt highly fake. These moments detracted from the excitement and wow factor due to the lack of realism in the backgrounds and animals.
Pacing is another area worth mentioning. I found the film’s beginning exciting, fresh, and loaded with fun moments that included random but entertaining action sequences. But the second act felt more unusual relating to the pace and its editing, and the plot details were vague. Some moments in the second act also became more predictable, but thankfully, I felt the pacing and excitement significantly improved by the third and final act.
Overall, those seeking a new Disney adventure will find plenty of joy on the screen, mostly thanks to the fun and pleasing performances from both Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. It’s evident the leads are having a blast with this action-packed adventure, but some elements didn’t quite work for me. Some of these include the film’s CGI, which at times lacked realism in the background, and the second act wobbles with its pacing, editing and is slightly vague in the plot. Still, this was an adventure I enjoyed, and it’s a ride I would gladly experience again and again.