'Jungle Cruise' Spoiler Review

When the news dropped that Disney was making a live-action film based on the Jungle Cruise ride and that Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson was going to star in it I admit that I was not looking forward to it.  When the first trailer was released, I became more hopeful as the film appeared to be an adventure-comedy film.  I think a big surprise for me was the chemistry between The Rock and Emily Blunt, they were fantastic together.  Blunt and Johnson were so good together that I hope we might get a sequel or that they at least do another film together.  The cast is rounded out by Jack Whitehall portraying Mac who is the brother of Blunt's character, Jesse Plemons playing the villainous Prince Joachim and Edgar Ramirez playing the creepy Aguirre.  The film has a lot of comedy and action that blend together making for a very entertaining film.  I found Jungle Cruise to be similar to The Suicide Squad which I thought also blended comedy and action into a very entertaining film.  The biggest difference between the two films is the rating, The Suicide Squad was rated R and Jungle Cruise was rated PG.  I think that Jungle Cruise will be looked upon fondly over time, but the box office returns will be below expectations since the film was available on Disney Plus (for an additional fee) the day it was released in theatres.

The film is based on the Jungle Cruise ride, which opened in 1955 in the Anaheim-based Disneyland.  The ride is now featured at Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland and the Magical Kingdom in Florida.  The Jungle Cruise film feels similar in tone to the Pirates of the Caribbean series, fun adventure films based on an amusement park ride.  The Rock is not as electric as Depp was, but he gives a performance that is full of charm.  The Rock is playing Frank Wolff (that is not his real name) and he runs a river cruise for tourists, Frank has a flair for showmanship and his business is not quite on the up and up.  When we meet Emily Blunt's character Lily Houghton, we find her watching her brother MacGregor Houghton (Jack Whitehall) reading a speech to a bunch of supposedly learned men.  Mac is reading a speech that was obviously written by his sister, but she is not allowed to speak to the society since she is a woman.  Lily is an intelligent woman who is both brave and adventurous, we see that she will not be deterred from mission.  I think each character is given an introduction that allows the audience to get a sense of the character.  The opening 40 minutes is easily to me the best part of the film, the character introductions and the early parts of the jungle cruise with Frank, Lily and Mac.  The film is never bad or boring, but once Frank's secret was revealed I felt the film became more serious.  Jungle Cruise is one of the better Disney rides turned into films, the first Pirates of the Caribbean film and Tomorrowland being the only other films that are as good or better.


The film opens with a flashback set to a James Newton Howard and Metallica collaboration of Nothing Else Matters.  The flashback is in 1556 when Don Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez) leads Spanish conquistadors to South America to locate the tree of life whose flowers can cure anything.  The trek through the jungle is disastrous and Aguirre and what is left of his men are near death when they are saved by a local tribe who are protectors of the tree.  Aguirre tries to get the tribal chief to give him the location of the tree, and when the chief refuses Aguirre and his men turn on the tribe killing most of them.  The dying chief then curses Aguirre and all of his men with eternal life, but they cannot leave sight of the Amazon river.  The film then jumps to the present (1916) and Lily Houghton is watching her brother Mac give a speech to the Royal Society about the tree of life.  Lily obviously wrote the speech, but her brother Mac needed to deliver it since she is a woman, and women are not allowed to be members of the Royal Society.  Lily senses her plan to get access to a recently acquired arrowhead is the key to locating the tree, so Lily attempts to steal the arrowhead.  On her way to steal the arrowhead she encounters Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) who is also after the arrowhead.  Prince Joachim though is a German royal who uses his wealth to gain access to the arrowhead finds that Lily has already taken it.  Lily escapes with the arrowhead, Mac and Lily then make their way to Brazil to start their quest.  

We meet Frank who is taking a bunch of tourists on a jungle cruise, he has arranged some adventure for the guests, and when he gets back to the dock, he is greeted by Nilo (Paul Giamatti).  Nilo wants his payment for the engine on Frank's boat, Frank does not have all the money so Nilo takes the engine until Frank can give the rest of the money.  Lily and Mac go to Nilo's bar to meet up about renting a boat, Frank who has broken into Nilo's office to steal the key to get to Frank's locked up engine meets Lily and pretends to be Nilo.  Lily tries to hire Frank to take her and Mac to the tree of life, Frank refuses telling her the trip is too dangerous.  Frank then sees that Lily is in possession of the arrowhead, he then agrees to take her and Mac to the tree.  Frank then convinces Lily to rent his boat and that have an agreement until Mac arrives with Nilo and Frank's scheme is blown.  A jaguar then enters the bar, and everyone flees, Frank fights off the Jaguar and is the hero.  Frank then lowers his price and gets Lily and Mac to agree, Frank then takes his engine back and they leave.  While leaving port they encounter Prince Joachim and his submarine, they are forced to take aggressive maneuvers and eventually get out of port.  

While sailing Frank and Lily bicker about everything, we learn that the jaguar that attacked the bar was actually Frank's jaguar named Proxima.  Frank also is an artist and a musician; he also has maps that lead to the tree of life.  When Lily realizes that Frank is also searching for the tree she is incensed, but Frank says he long ago gave up on finding the tree.  Prince Joachim meanwhile has decided to get some help, he locates the imprisoned bodies of Aguirre and his men.  Aguirre is trapped in mud in a cave, Joachim frees them by bring the river to them using explosives.  Aguirre and his men are then tasked by Prince Joachim to find Lily and get the arrowhead.  Frank, Lily and Mac are taken captive by a local tribe, they are another of Frank's fake dangers he was not able to cancel in time.  Aguirre and his men (who now have mystical powers) attack, they stab Frank, who falls and they chase Lily who runs into the jungle where they cannot follow since they are too far from the river.  The next morning Mac and Lily find an alive and well Frank, though he does have a sword going through him.  Frank reveals his real name is Francisco and that he was one of Aguirre's men until he turned on them after they attacked the tribe, he was cursed too.  Frank fought his fellow conquistadors over the years, but he grew tired of this, so he came up with a plan to trap Aguirre and his men.  

Frank, Lily and Mac have now figured out how to read the map after the tribe who captured them is able to decipher it for them.  Mac who was hurt during the attack is tasked with going back to port, while Lily and Frank will continue on.  Mac on his way back to port is captured by Prince Joachim who forces Mac to reveal where Lily and Frank are going.  Frank and Lily make it to a waterfall where they are able to activate an entrance, but they find that Prince Joachim has found them and has Mac as his prisoner.  Lily, Frank, Prince Joachim and his men enter the cave using Franks boat, they find the tree, but Aguirre and his men arrive.  Chaos ensues and Lily is able to save one flower before the tree stops blooming, Frank uses his boat to block the river and thus trap himself and his fellow conquistadors.  Frank has turned to stone like Aguirre and his men, but Lily has realized she has feelings for Frank, and she uses the only flower to save Frank and break the curse.  Frank had previously said if his curse is lifted, he wanted to die, but he also has feelings for Lily and he decides to spend the rest of his life with her.  They go to London and Frank drives a car for the first time as credits rolls.


The opening scene set to Nothing Else Matters blew me away as I was not expecting to hear a Metallica song in a Disney film.  I liked the opening a lot, and I like the reveal that Aguirre's desperation was because he was trying to save his dying daughter, I wish we got more of that from Aguirre after he was revived.  Plemons was good as Prince Joachim, but he was never menacing, and Aguirre and his men were CGI monsters that were not as interesting.  That is why I said I enjoyed the earlier part of the film more, once the CGI monsters arrived the film became more intense but also less interesting.  The emotional connection to the Aguirre was removed once he became a monster, I like Edgar Ramirez and I wish we got more of him in this film.  I already mentioned that I thought Emily Blunt and The Rock had great chemistry together, but Jack Whitehall as Mac was great too.  The action/adventure in the film was nothing original or fantastic, but it was entertaining.  I am still very impressed that they managed to tell a tale that is so entertaining and heart from a ride, the ride was used an inspiration, but the writers did a great job of storytelling.

Despite not finding the villains very interesting or deep, the film just had me so entertained that I didn't care that the villains were not developed.  I keep comparing it to Pirates of the Caribbean because there is something so familiar about Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean.  Some of it is in the setting of the old world, and the boat adventures, a large part is the blend of action and comedy.  The Rock and Blunt are so good together that you forgive the weaker elements of the film, I am not sure if a sequel is happening, but I would love to see The Rock and Blunt together.  Despite Frank being immortal, he never felt like he was anything more than an ordinary man.  The Rock never used his invincibility to his advantage except when he was stabbed by Aguirre.  I really enjoyed Jungle Cruise and just based on how much I was entertained by it I am going to give it an 8/10.  The film is so entertaining, I would be shocked if the issues of the film ruin someone's enjoyment.  I highly recommend watching Jungle Cruise, whether it be on Disney Plus or in a theatre.

Thank you for reading and let me know what your thoughts on Jungle Cruise were.  

0/Post a Comment/Comments