Disney is bringing Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson together for “Jungle Cruise” an epic adventure based on the theme park attraction. Blunt has proven she can command an audience and Johnson has proven to deliver plenty of personality. But I was skeptical on whether this film could ignite a franchise in the same fashion as “Pirates of the Caribbean”. I had a lot of fun with this movie, and I enjoyed the jovial experience it delivered much more than I was expecting. I laughed. I found myself interested in the admittedly formulaic story-progression. The performances appealed to me as well and the visuals were bold and vibrant. So, the jury will be out on whether or not “Jungle Cruise” will be the next billion-dollar franchise for Disney.
I had a blast with the atmosphere and tone of this adaptation. It very much felt like “Romancing the Stone” splashed with the lighthearted adventures of the first “Mummy” film led by Frasier. Like he and Weisz in that one, here Johnson and Blunt form a capable combo. Their timing and chemistry felt natural and sincere. You can feel the endearment they grow to have for each other as friends which assists in luring you into the dramatic elements of the story. Johnson was tough, confident, and capable. And to his equal, Blunt was as well. However, in a completely different package and as the adventure and thrills are thrown at them, seeing their reactions, decision making, and teamwork, added a charming layer of appealing engagement.
They both felt like caricatures of real people, but they brought that needed human element and that’s something that both old and young will be able to have fun with while watching. Much like the harrowing adventures the plot-line provides from one scene to the next. It takes viewers to another time and place to create endless amounts of wonder and excitement that can appeal to all ages. I will admit the plot-progression was predictable, but it isn’t something that will get in the way of taking the cinematic ride the movie intends. It’s a fantastical world of action, intrigue, thrills, and creatures. It’s a world where Johnson can wrestle tigers and it’s a delight. Jesse Plemons and Paul Giamatti come in with a couple of jovial performance as well. You can sense all the actors are having a good time and it translates nicely into the onscreen charisma.
It was a bit long to be honest. Hovering on two-hours felt excessive for plot-structuring and character development that could easily have been worked out in 90-100 minutes. There are some lulls in the middle act that do undercut the enthusiasm in places. But with frequent bursts of action, and a wild collection of set-pieces that can have you on the edge of your seat, the slower pacing isn’t a deal-breaker. There’s plenty to invest in with the characters and the mission in front of them and with tightly written dialogue boasting a lovable personality. There are plenty of cool things to sink your teeth into that will take you on a mental and visual journey.
Anthony J Digioia II - SilverScreen Analysis © All Rights Reserved.