Review: Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise is the latest Disney release to be based upon a theme park attraction much in the same way Pirates of the Caribbean or The Haunted Mansion but the question is, is it worthy of your attention? Now it could be the post F9 blues talking here, but I actually really enjoy Jungle Cruise and I’m going to tell you why.

In case you didn’t know, the film is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop / The Shallows) and stars the most electrifying man in all of entertainment, Dwayne Johnson, the always spectacular Emily Blunt, and a performance by Jack Whitehall that was so good, I didn’t feel the need to reach through my TV to strangle him to death with a hammer but without a shadow of a doubt it is Johnson’s energy, charisma and sheer magnetic charm that helps propel into something really enjoyable.

However, don’t think for one second that Emily Blunt doesn’t hold her own here as she delivers what I’d consider to be the entertaining performance of her career and both her and Johnson have terrific chemistry together.

From start to finish, Jungle Cruise feels like the kind of swashbuckling family adventure I grew up with in the 90’s as it comes across as Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone and The Mummy all rolled into one and for me that right there is a recipe for success. We just don’t get many of these films anymore and it was quite refreshing to take a modern take on the classic adventure tale.

As you’d expect from a Disney release the entire film is beautiful with no expenses spared and while I’d imagine a vast majority of this film was probably shot on a soundstage, it really does sell the world our characters are living in. From the opening notes of Nothing Else Matters (yes, the Metallica song) and the surprisingly dignified voiceover from Whitehall to the closing moments, I loved every second if what this film had to offer.

While it is far from original, you’ve seen this type of adventure a dozen times before, what Jungle Cruise does is keep you engaged throughout and more importantly, it makes you care for the characters for the duration of the film. Yes, there’s convenient plot points and and conveniences that point the story down a particular route but it doesn’t take itself too seriously and the Dad jokes are in full swing throughout which, while terrible, did make me chuckle.

Anyone that enjoyed the previously mentioned films, Indiana Jones in particular, will feel right at home with Jungle Cruise and being a Disney film it is more that suitable for family viewing and kids of all ages. There’s no crass humour and despite being some slight innuendo there’s nothing here that’s going to cause an awkward conversation in the car on the way home.

Simply put, Jungle Cruise is a light-hearted, tongue in cheek adventure film that I think pretty much everyone but the most miserable people will enjoy and while I’m sure there’s plenty of folk out there who’ll find something to nit-pick, they like the film itself, shouldn’t take things too seriously.

by Edward Laing