Based on one of the first ever rides to grace Disneyland in California, Jungle Cruise takes us back to what seems to be a slightly bygone era of films. Full of adventure, laughs, heart, and enough dad jokes to make anyone sigh through the whole 120 minute run time (in the best way possible), it is the summer blockbuster that families have been longing for since before the pandemic. With a wonderful cast, and swashbuckling action, Jungle Cruise is set to be a crowd pleaser.
Written by Alex Gilston
Between the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, The Haunted Mansion, Tomorrowland, and more, Disney has had varied success when it comes to adapting aspects of their theme parks into blockbuster movies. Next on the list for the studios was, world river cruise themed, Jungle Cruise. From a story written by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, the film sees scientist Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), and her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) travel to the jungle in search of the Tree of Life with the help of riverboat captain Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson). On their way they encounter deadly animals and even deadlier humans in a race to change the world forever. One might expect that the paint by numbers nature of the story would act as a hindrance, but quite the opposite as it allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy all the other aspects of the film, without worrying that you might not be following along properly.
The cast are having the time of their lives when it comes to Jungle Cruise. Emily Blunt shines in the main role and Dwayne Johnson brings a performance that, these days, he could deliver in his sleep, and one that is ultimately why audiences love him so much. Jack Whitehall stars in his second Disney film to date and in a more prominent role this time and surprisingly delivers a performance well worth watching, and proving that not only can he fit in easily against two incredibly experienced actors but stand alongside them. The clear highlight of the ensemble cast is Jesse Plemons’ villainous Prince Joachim. A perfectly camp, devilish character that wouldn’t look out of place in the best pantomime. But as seen in his career previous to this, he always understands the assignment.
With Jungle Cruise, Disney has moved a little step up from its tokenistic box ticking as a scene in the film heavily references that a character is gay. After characters like LeFou in the live action Beauty and the Beast being referred to as gay in the marketing leading up to the film, only for it to be a passing blink and you’ll miss it comment, it was nice to see them delve a little further and have a have a more in depth conversation about sexuality. Even though there are still massive strides to be taken when it comes to LGBTQIA+ representation in Disney films, it was ultimately a big enough step that might mean a lot to gay people watching the film.
Bar some shoddy CGI at certain points, Jungle Cruise delivers in droves to a genre of films that is loved universally by audiences. Afterwards you'll want to go back and watch National Treasure, The Mummy or Treasure Planet, because you won’t want the adventure to be over. It remains to be seen whether we will return to the world of Jungle Cruise but I’m sure audiences will love the idea of being thrown into another escapade with Blunt, Johnson, and Whitehall.