Jaume Collet-Serra's Jungle Cruise is an absolute blast from start-to-finish. It's directed with a creative burst of energy that makes the entire film feel like a ride that's fun for all ages, but never insults or doubts your intelligence. Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt are the perfect pairing of beauty, brawn and comedy, landing each and every joke, making the entire experience a treat that isn't to be missed this summer.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra teams with writers Michael Green, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa for Disney’s Jungle Cruise, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt in the latest theme park ride converted to big screen adventure and the result is a crowd-pleaser that’s bursting at the seams with creative action sequences and a heaping dose of laughter. Jungle Cruise is fun for all ages.
Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and her brother MacGregor Houghton (Jack Whitehall) are in search of a mysterious tree that is home to a mystical flower. Legend has it that even one petal could give you healing properties that are far beyond modern medicine, which is why Lily and her brother MacGregor have hired riverboat Captain Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) to take them through the dangerous jungle to find it.
Of course, Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons), among others, are in search for this same treasure and will stop at nothing to have it all to themselves, which turns Jungle Cruise into a race-against-time adventure done up in Disney fashion, which means a big-budget and lots of action.
I’ll start off my review by saying that director Jaume Collet-Serra is one of the most exciting genre directors working in the field today, constantly infusing creative camera shots and stellar action sequences in all of his films. Up until recently, he’s been kind of known unofficially as the Liam Neeson collaborator, having directed Neeson in the likes of Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night and The Commuter, only taking brief pauses to direct The Shallows, as well as a few quick stints in television.
And I know most will sigh at the fact that Collet-Serra might be associated with Neeson in the sense that some have considered Neeson a bit over-saturated, but I assure you that Collet-Serra should be applauded for his ability to take Neeson and drop him into any handful of absurd situations and yet somehow always delivering a suspenseful thriller.
It’s not Collet-Serra’s fault that Neeson chooses to make the same movie over and over again with other directors, to much less favorable results.
But I digress.
Jungle Cruise is another bright spot for Collet-Serra, utilizing Disney’s budget to make for thrilling action that’s easily digestible and very fluid. The camera moves around the jungle with slick edits and painless transitions as our stars navigate the uncharted waters with death and destruction not far behind.
Collet-Serra does rely a bit too much on CGI this time around, but it’s mostly harmless and at this point, part of the game, when it comes to making a big-budget studio picture.
Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt are fantastic in this film and essentially carry the performances, alongside Jack Whitehall and Jesse Plemons. The core relationship between Johnson and Blunt is the most memorable, due to the comedic nature of their roles and each performers ability to deliver such sharp and witty banter without the blink of an eye.
Plemons is outrageous and over-the-top, yet again reminding us that he simply gets better with age.
Jungle Cruise reminded me very much of the feeling that I had the first time I saw Pirates of the Caribbean, in the sense that I was not expecting much, yet felt that Disney did the property justice in delivering an action-packed adventure film that has plenty of gas in the tank for more.
Jungle Cruise is no-doubt lighter in tone and more reliant on humor and silly situations, compared to the Pirates sequels, which got darker and much more serious as they went.
There’s also a feeling of weightlessness as Jungle Cruise moves forward through the simple plot to get to the next set piece and I mean that in a good way. Nothing feels as big or as grand here, but that doesn’t short-change the fun or excitement as the film is full of unique visuals and exciting big-screen action that I honestly don’t think will replicate at home as well on say Disney+.
I understand the streaming platform’s appeal and more power to those that choose to consume their media this way, but I definitely think Jungle Cruise would benefit from a larger format experience, such as an IMAX or Dolby Cinema presentation.
Jaume Collet-Serra‘s Jungle Cruise is another satisfying Disney experience that again reminds us never to doubt the mouse. Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt‘s star power should help keep this one at the top of the box office for weeks to come and deservingly so, because Jungle Cruise is fun for the whole family in a way that doesn’t insult your intelligence or simply sell you another IP for the sake of it — Collet-Serra breaks the vanilla Disney mold to make a film that’s got some visual style and enough to say to warrant a viewing.