Jungle Cruise (2021). Film review of the adventure starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt

Image from the action adventure film Jungle Cruise (2021) showing stars Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall
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Action/Adventure/Fantasy

Jason Day

star rating 3 out of 5 worth watching

Film review by Jason Day of Jungle Cruise, the 2021 action adventure movie about a trip through the Amazon to find a fabled plant. Starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.

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Synopsis

It’s 1919 and intrepid, action-hungry scientist Dr Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) bucks the social trend as very nearly the sole a woman in her field (and one who refuses to wear dresses), so her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) has to present her research about a fabled flower that could revolutionise medical care to a scientific panel of men.

They reject the findings but Lily is determined to find the Tears of the Moon and sets off for a wild trip along the Amazon, dragging MacGregor along. They hire a boat from the disreputable Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson), who is also interested in finding the flower.

Review by @Reelreviewer

Finding out this movie is another Disney epic based on one of their theme park rides, I wasn’t filled with much hope of enjoying it. I found the interminable, glib and ridiculously overlong Pirates of the Caribbean franchise left me with no ‘yo, ho, ho’ but wanting to walk the plank.

Thankfully this less annoying and more up-front daft and enjoyable fun piece proved to be just the ticket…and the word annoying is a very choice one at this juncture in the review.

Jack Whitehall, from my perspective at least, is ‘entertainment Marmite’…but where I love Marmite, Whitehall usually has me reaching for the off switch.

But there is an issue with his casting in Jungle Cruise…shock and quelle horreur, he’s good. Very good in fact.

As a performer on UK TV I’ve always fond him irritating. Not unintelligent and he’s certainly got his wits in tune about what’s going on the world, but there is something sneering and elitist in what he does.

Weirdly in this movie he manages to endear himself to you, even though his character is written in exactly the same way as I gave described him above.

He actually manages to be less annoying – striving to be more positive and engaging – than his character is written. He makes great use of the humour in the script (“I thought I’d keep it casual” he says, stepping out in a fresh new outfit just for the jungle) without the comedy ever outstaying its welcome.

There’s a surprisingly enjoyable screen pairing with the hulking, swaggering bodybuilder type Dwayne Johnson and English rose Emily Blunt. These opposites attract have enormous fun playing alongside one another, so it’s hardy surprising Empire Magazine have only just reported (30 August 2021) there will be a sequel to this movie.

Much more fun that the Pirates films it doesn’t feel drawn out but it is more violent, albeit in a cartoonish, comic book way. There are a few shock moments that will have you jumping out of your skin and these bits, plus some quite gory CGI for the undead Spanish Conquistadors that might be too scary for the little ones.

Cast & credits

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra. 2hr 7min/127 min. Davis Entertainment/Flynn Picture Company/Seven Bucks Productions/TSG Entertainment/Walt Disney Pictures/Zaftig Films. (12a).

Producers: John Davis, Beau Flynn, John Fox, Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia, Dwayne Johnson,
Writers: Michael Green, Glenn Ficarra, John Requa.
Camera: Flavio Martínez Labiano.
Music: James Newton Howard.
Sets: Jean-Vincent Puzos.

Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramirez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, Paul Giamatti, Veronica Falcón, Dani Rovira, Quim Gutiérrez, Dan Dargan Carter, Andy Nyman.

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