Turning a theme park ride into a movie isn’t easy, let alone making it compelling. It doesn’t even make a whole lot of sense when you think about it but, if anybody has the creative team and resources to pull it off, it’s Dinsey. At its core, Jungle Cruise is a cross between (Stephen Sommers’ 1999 movie) The Mummy and Pirates of the Caribbean and I mean that with the utmost flattery.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra did a magnificent job capturing exactly what this kind of cinematic experience should entail. It’s funny, full of action and adventure, and dressed up with all the trimmings of a big-time Disney production. The set design and costuming are great and the scope of the movie gives it a real sense of adventure.
Either Collet-Serra or the writers (Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, & Michael Green) must have sat down and watched The Mummy before penning this story because there are A LOT of similarities, from the ancient curse to the entitled, British, third-wheel brother. It worked great then and it does here too.
The Rock is basically the Brendan Fraser role, a little rough around the edges but ultimately heroic and charming. Emily Blunt plays the Rachel Weisz part, the English scholar who has to hire a guide to reach her hidden treasure. And Jack Whitehall plays the aforementioned brother who goes from spoiled snob to unlikely hero. They all play their roles exceedingly well and have tremendous chemistry together, which is what made The Mummy work so well too.
Jesse Plemons is one of those actors who is going to steal the show every time he’s on camera and he brings an undeniable charisma to even his most despicable characters. This Prince Joachim is a bit more on the cartoonish side, but Plemons nails the delivery. We also get Edgar Ramirez as an additional villain to worry about, playing the curse explorer Aguirre. I would have liked more out of his role, but I can’t complain with Plemons taking the lead there.
The box office numbers were pretty darn good, considering the simultaneous release on Disney+ Premium, but that’s because this is a movie that is best served by the big screen. We did the 4DX experience which made it more like an interactive ride. Tons of fun!
Recommendation: If you like action-adventure flicks, this one learned from and borrowed from some of my favorites. If you can see it in 4DX, it’s totally worth it.
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