Life & Culture

Film review: Jungle Cruise

Linda Marric enjoys an Amazon adventure



Emily Blunt, Dwayne Johnson and comedian-turned-actor Jack Whitehall star in this thrilling new adventure from prolific horror director Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax, Orphan). Based on Walt Disney’s theme park attraction of the same name, Jungle Cruise was first scheduled for release in 2020, but became yet another victim of the Covid crisis.

Set in London, 1920, British scientist Dr Lily Houghton (Blunt) and her brother MacGregor (Whitehall) plan to travel to the deepest Amazon forest to search for the mythical Tree of Life, believed to possess healing powers. Arriving in Brazil for their big adventure, the siblings hire crafty riverboat captain Frank (Johnson) to help them navigate the jungle and retrieve what they came for. Meanwhile, the trio must fight against a competing Imperial German expedition headed by the sadistic Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) who is determined to find the tree first.

Jungle Cruise feels almost as though it’s here to fill a gaping hole left by the absence of the much loved Pirates of The Caribbean franchise. There are some undeniable similarities both thematically and tonally which are sure to strike a chord with audiences seeking a good old fashioned adventure.

Blunt is rather magnificent as the headstrong stiff-upper-lipped heroine who is anything but a damsel in destress. She brings a certain playful British sternness — think a swash-buckling Mary Poppins with a sassy feminist twist — to the role. For his part, Johnson is as hilariously self-aware as we’ve come to expect from the ex professional wrestler. London- based Jewish actor-writer-director Andy Nyman puts in a brief, yet memorable appearance in the first chapter of the film.

Fast-paced, robustly acted and entertaining from start to finish, Jungle Cruise is a mixture of classic adventures with definite nods to films such as John Huston’s The African Queen and gag-heavy modern productions. All in all, it is an enjoyably chaotic romp which feels both fresh and yet familiar in a positive way.

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