By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
is the latest movie that Disney has made based on one of its most iconic and beloved theme park rides.
Nostalgia goes a long way with this brand. Disney has attracted audiences with movies like the mega box office hit series “The Pirates of the Caribbean” as well as “The Haunted Mansion,” “Tomorrowland” and “The Country Bears.”
“Jungle Cruise” should be another crowd pleaser. The movie, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (“Orphan” and “The Commuter”), has a lot going for it, notably its lead stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Upcoming, “Black Adam” and “San Andreas 2”) and Emily Blunt (“A Quiet Place II”). Plus, it’s just a light-hearted, fun, family-friendly popcorn movie that is reminiscent of the action- packed adventurers like “Raiders of the Lost Ark, “The Mummy” and “The African Queen.” The latter film was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise attraction.
In “Jungle Cruise,” Blunt plays Dr. Lily Houghton, an eccentric, free-spirited scientist who is much smarter and observant than her chauvinistic male colleagues. It’s 1916 after all and they are intimidated and jealous of her enterprising ways.
Dr. Houghton is determined to find the “Tree of Life” that’s located in the Amazon jungle. The petals from it have extraordinary healing powers which could revolutionize the medical world.
Of course, many people claim that “The Tree of Life” is just some farfetched folk tale because historians and so many others have searched high and low for it, but to no avail including a conquistador named Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez, TV’s “American Crime Story”) who became eternally cursed after his failed efforts.
Dr. Houghton believes an ancient arrowhead is the key to unraveling this mystery. So, she and her brother, MacGregor (Jack Whitehall, “Clifford the Big, Red Dog”) seek out the only person who knows every stretch of the Amazon. That would be Frank "Skipper" Wolff, (Johnson), a steamboat captain who really is a conman that swindles tourists by taking them on pre-staged excursions. This guy will do anything for a buck including have his pet jaguar attack him and then fighting off the animal much to the amazement of onlookers.
But Dr. Houghton is no pushover. She decides to hire “Skipper” and they set sail for an adventure of a lifetime. Their journey is rife with poisonous snakes, ferocious beasts, mercenaries, and other shady characters like Prince Joachim,(Jesse Plemons, “Judas and the Black Messiah”) a maniacal German military official and greedy harbormaster Nilo Nemolato (Paul Giamatti, “San Andreas 2” and TV’s “Billions”) who are searching for “The Tree of Life” for their own nefarious purposes.
“Jungle Cruise” isn’t always a smooth sailing ride. Although the action scenes are well staged, they become a bit repetitive midway through the movie. Thankfully, Johnson and Blunt save those moments and other lulls with their witty and zany banter. She calls Frank "Skippy”, and he refers to her as "Pants" because she’s one of the few women he’s ever seen wearing trousers.
Johnson and Blunt ooze charisma and deliver the movie’s rollicking fun. In the end, what they find is worth more than buried treasure.
Hop aboard the “Jungle Cruise." It's a trip worth taking.
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Watch This Trailer For "JUNGLE CRUISE"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.