By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
If there is one thing that Disney’s Pirates of the Carribean has proven, it is the fact that Disney producers with the right creative filmmakers can turn a popular Disney park attraction into a highly entertaining and well-made movie. And that is exactly what Disney hopes to duplicate with their latest live action entry Jungle Cruise. Based on the popular attraction at Disney Parks, this adventure film attempts to offer action, adventure and entertainment to the max. And though it does succeed to a certain level, the end result is a bit overstuffed. However, the wonderfully earnest performances by the outstanding cast manages to make this film a thoroughly fun affair, despite the film’s weaknesses.
Dwayne Johnson stars as Captain Frank “Skipper” Wolff, a crafty, but goodhearted steamboat captain who makes a living taking passengers on boat tours through the Amazon river in Brazil during World War I. British scientist Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) happen to need transport to the legendary Tree of Life where they hope to unlock its secrets for the sake of science and medicine. After meeting Skipper and working out a deal with him, Wolff agrees to transport Lily and MacGregor to their destination. However, German aristocrat Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) has his expedition plans of his own.
Written by John Norville, Josh Goldstein, Glenn Ficarra. John Requa, Michael Green, and directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Jungle Cruise offers its audience thrilling action, amusing humor, and an undeniaby good time. Though the ambitions of the filmmakers bring way too much to the film, everything works well enough to keep its audiences well-entertained. Though the movie obviously draws from many previous inspirations, the writers and director succeed in undermining some of the more dated adventure story tropes and do so with great effect.
The filmmakers behind this attempted summer blockbuster have chosen well when it comes to the movie’s cast. Dwayne Johnson is actually perfectly cast as Captain Frank Wolff. He has the perfect personality and sense of humor to bring his character to life. As Dr. Lily Houghton, Emily Blunt has a natural confidence mixed with the right passionate sensibilities to sincerely realize her character well. As Lily’s more fastidious brother MacGregor, Jack Whitehall is an absolute joy on screen and makes this fun adventure all the more entertaining.
However, the most hilarious turn comes from Jesse Plemons who is obviously having a blast as the wildly over-the-top German aristocrat Prince Joachim. Even though his accent is highly affected (intentionally), his zealous and highly comedic performance adds much more entertainment value to this movie. The movie also features some fun and enjoyable appearances by Edgar Ramirez, Paul Giamatti, Veronica Falcon, Dani Rovira, and Quim Gutierrez.
And despite the flaws of this movie, I had such a great time on this adventure. It is definitely a delightful popcorn movie that deserves to be experienced on the big screen. I can certainly forsee this film leading into another Disney franchise, and a successful one at that. I feel that the producers and future filmmakers should take some notes at what works well and what doesn’t because if they do, they have the potential to create something that is truly remarkable and amazing. The solid roots have been lain.