July 29, 2021

CINEMA | Dwayne Johnson Rides – Welcome to the 'Jungle Cruise'

"Haven't you been dreaming of adventure?"
Dwayne Johnson Emily Blunt Jaume Collet-Serra | Disney's Jungle Cruise
Walt Disney Pictures / Seven Bucks Productions
Journeyman horror/action filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra directs the period screwball adventure blockbuster based on the famous Disneyland ride. Jungle Cruise, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt as WWI-era explorers, tries to replicate the Indiana Jones-type formula from late the twentieth century in mimicking other films like Romancing the Stone or The Mummy as originally inspired by the 1951 classic The African Queen. While fun and swashbuckling, it never comes quite come close enough.

British comedian Jack Whitehall serves as comic relief in Blunt's hoity-toity brother while Édgar Ramírez, Paul Giamatti, and Jesse Plemons in a very thick and ridiculous German accent serve as a trio of very diverging villains. It's really the very watchable overacting and dialled up camp from Plemons and Giamiatte as grounded by Blunt's intense ferocity that makes any of it fun.

Scripted by Michael Green, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the adventure is molded in the style of Pirates of the Caribbean with the usual supernatural touches, CGI villain monsters, a magical MacGuffin, and ship sequences on the water. There's a workmanlike competency to the film's pace and action yet it lacks the finish of a cohesive vision from start to finish.

Johnson and Blunt make for a charming pair, but their chemistry feels a bit scattered. There's enough magic to make Jungle Cruise fun enough yet there's something missing in its sort of generic efficiency. Most everything is serviceable and amusing with Collet-Serra's lean genre movie directing chops coming in handy at guiding the film's sense of adventure. Still, this ride fails to warrant much beyond its light amusement not unlike the family attraction it's based on despite a fine cast.

Jungle Cruise is available to stream on Disney+ through Premier Access.

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