Experience it now.
Jungle Cruise is a 2021 fantasy adventure film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, written by Michael Green, Glenn Ficarra, and John Requa, produced by Walt Disney Pictures, Davis Entertainment, Seven Bucks Productions, and Flynn Picture Company, and distributed by Walt Disney Motion Pictures. The film is based off of the Walt Disney World attraction, Jungle Cruise. It stars Emily Blunt and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. It was not nominated for any Academy Awards. A sequel has been confirmed.
"Haven't you been dreaming of another adventure?" -Dr. Lily Houghton
When her lifelong search for a tree that can heal any wound comes to a head, Dr. Lily Houghton meets ragtag jungle cruise captain Frank Wolff. Lily convinces Frank to take her and her brother through the treacherous jungle to find the Tears of the Moon. Along the way, however, they encounter dangerous obstacles that want the Tears of the Moon as well.
One of the highlights of the entire year of 2021 is the chemistry between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt in Jungle Cruise. They are absolutely fantastic to watch. They both have a sarcastic, dry sense of humor in this film, and they are brutally honest with each other, which makes them just tons of fun to watch. They bounce off each other very nicely. It elevates the fun of this movie because most of the movie is them on screen together.
The movie can also be very funny at times. I absolutely adored what The Rock does with his character. The mix of sarcasm and usual charm from The Rock is just great. In his introductory scene, he just flexes all of his comedic muscles. It’s so funny. They also have all the usual one-liners and quips that are present in Disney and Marvel movies. And these are some of the better jokes present in these Disney movies.
The movie also has the usual light-heartedness and levity of a Disney movie. It definitely hit some of the nostalgia notes well, reminding me of the times that I’ve been to Disney world or the times that I would sit in my living room and watch The Jungle Book or Peter Pan. It was an aspect that I definitely did not expect, but I appreciated that they added nostalgia to this movie.
This is also a pretty fun adventure. Jungle Cruise is one of the most iconic and popular rides at Walt Disney World, and the movie uses the actual jungle cruise very nicely. The adventure through the mystical jungle is fun as we see these different, fantastical things happen throughout the film. The fantastic elements combined with the charisma of The Rock and Emily Blunt make this film have solid entertainment value…for the most part.
This film spirals further and further down the rabbit hole until it hits rock bottom in the final act.
Jungle Cruise’s main plotline revolves around Emily Blunt trying to find a magic tree that holds these leaves called “The Tears of the Moon”. And, obviously, they find the tree in the third act. But all of our villains do as well. And they try to resolve all of these plotlines, but the result is the messiest finale of 2021. Instead of giving satisfying endings to the main plot as well as the subplots, we get a jumbled, confusing resolution to the movie that makes zero sense. Because of the ending, the actual journey of Jungle Cruise is essentially pointless. I hated that.
The villains are also bad. Jesse Plemons of Breaking Bad fame is funny and entertaining as the villain he plays, but the actual character is unbearable. He is this annoying German general that disappears and re-appears at random segments throughout the movie. It also seems like he teams up with our other villain, Aguirre, but that isn’t really clear. Their partnership ends up serving no point in the grand scheme of things, and it just adds to the confusing nature of this film.
I also find the story to be wildly simple yet unbearably confusing at the same time. It follows the template of a billion better adventure movies: our heroes want to get an artifact before the villains and must go on some kind of treacherous journey of self-change to get there. But, as I said before, it just collapses in the final act. The story is simplistic, but it sets up a bunch of things throughout the film that seem like they could be paid off nicely. Instead, the film contradicts all the setup of the previous hour and a half in the finale, going for payoffs that contradict everything that was setup in the first two acts of the movie.
There is also a time jump in the middle of the movie, but it’s unclear how long of a time jump it is. There is a shot that zooms into a map and then shows the boat fly through the river on the map. I also hate this. First of all, I want to keep exploring the jungle instead of just skipping through it. Second of all, we now have no idea how long Emily Blunt and The Rock have been together. It lessens the impact of their relationship, because to us, it feels like they’ve been together for a few days. I don’t know why you would have a time jump and not say how long it’s been. That makes zero sense. Just like the rest of Jungle Cruise.
Lastly, this movie overuses CGI. Especially with Aguirre and the rest of his henchmen. Pretty much every animal in this movie (and there’s a good amount) is computer-generated. It veers into Shang-Chi CGI noise territory. And I never like that. It gives me a headache and makes me bored. Most critics say this movie has a high entertainment value. But I disagree. A fun adventure cannot overshadow the mix of bland CGI and a confusing, dumb story with bad payoff.
Analogy and Final Score
Jungle Cruise is like a desperate salesperson trying to pitch something. The pitch starts out strong, but the audience that the salesperson is pitching to just isn’t that interested. The pitch gets rejected, but then the salesperson continues to beg the audience to accept whatever they are selling, and, in doing so, ruins the pitch, making it a complete mess.
Jungle Cruise is a bad movie.
I will give it a Sour. Age range is 8+.
SWEET N’ SOUR SCALE
Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
Fun Factor: 5.5/10
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Rated PG-13 for fantasy violence and action, minor language, some frightening images, thematic elements
Released on July 30, 2021
2 hours and 7 minutes
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Frank Wolff
Emily Blunt as Dr. Lily Houghton
Jack Whitehall as MacGregor Houghton
Jesse Plemons as Prince Joachim
Édgar Ramirez as Aguirre