'Jungle Cruise' is an unexpected thrill ride with charm to spare #rwanda #RwOT - MrLiambi's blog


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Friday, 30 July 2021

'Jungle Cruise' is an unexpected thrill ride with charm to spare #rwanda #RwOT

Put Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in e v e r y t h i n g.

"Everything you see wants to kill you — and can," warns Dwayne Johnson’s Frank in Jungle Cruise.

It’s a dire sentiment coming from the lovable steamboat captain, who stands in for generations of real Disney employees in this feature-length take on the iconic amusement park ride. And yet, it's precisely Frank’s likability that makes you believe him when he says there’s danger afoot.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Jungle Cruise stars Johnson opposite Emily Blunt, as the intrepid Dr. Lily Houghton. A botanist with a knack for hand-to-hand combat, lock picking, and, as we learn during a spectacular opening sequence, theft, Lily begins the film by getting her hands on a valuable artifact. With the ancient trinket and her apprehensive brother McGregor (Jack Whitehall) in tow, she then sets out in search of a mythical tree known as “The Tears of the Moon.”

The tree's extraordinary healing powers, Lily explains, could change medicine forever, and the fearless academic intends to help that happen. The ambitious plan takes Lily and her brother to a port town in Brazil, where they meet and eventually hire Frank for a perilous voyage — one that audiences are sure to love for its slick stunts, silly jokes, and the magnetic heroes who make them.

Jack Whitehall is a surprise delight as Lily's brother McGregor.
Jack Whitehall is a surprise delight as Lily's brother McGregor. Credit: disney

Aboard his boat La Quila, Frank acts as the siblings’ treasure hunting tour guide. But sly glances imply he's interested in the tree's power for different reasons. Complicating matters further is Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons), a German aristocrat who, in his own efforts to reach the tree, opts to closely follow our stalwart crew in a missile-equipped U-boat. (Yes, the rumors are true: Plemons rocks in this role and that's all I'll say.)

The race to reach the tree propels Jungle Cruise's plot, as you might expect. But it’s Johnson and Blunt that give the film true direction. Offering enough confidence and chemistry to convincingly sell a story not even half as good as this one, the dynamite duo makes starring in a major Disney movie look easy. For Mary Poppins and The Rock, maybe it is.

Whether they're squabbling or battling for survival, the World War One-era odd couple delivers charismatic excellence against a backdrop of Indiana Jones-type action that hasn't been done this well since the first Pirates of the Caribbean flick. In fact, many Jungle Cruise's most memorable sequences resemble Jack Sparrow antics — the same whirlwind of chaotic, exploration-loving scheming, now with a more polished finish.

Confirmed: The Rock can make a sea captain's hat look kinda hot.
Confirmed: The Rock can make a sea captain's hat look kinda hot. Credit: disney

That Johnson and Blunt haven't been cast as co-leads before is something of a missed opportunity miracle. Not only are they perfectly matched in their acting skill, outshining each other only when the story demands it, but the A-list actors also achieve an effortless realism in Jungle Cruise that makes every beat more believable. Disney pairing them up first (the duo's slated to appear as a superhero couple in Netflix's Ball and Chain next) speaks to the House of Mouse's talent for both star casting and fantasy world-building.

Take, for instance, the early revelation that Frank has been keeping a pet jaguar below the deck of his New York City apartment-sized watercraft. It's Lily's innate coolness that helps us accept the big cat as a companion rather than foe, even as McGregor pleads for his life in its presence.

While you can tell the jaguar and the rest of the creatures in Jungle Cruise are computer-animated, Blunt and Johnson help with the believability there too. Their relaxed interactions with set pieces, both physical and digital, smoothly integrate this movie's many ideas into an organic narrative that feels justified at almost every turn. Unlike the Disney releases that have fought against the current to resurrect old IP, Jungle Cruise flows like a tidal wave finally bursting from a dilapidated dam.

This is a journey you don't want to miss out on.
This is a journey you don't want to miss out on. Credit: disney

As with the animatronic adventure it’s based on, Jungle Cruise is a journey fueled by charm — a safari of stunning visuals and corny jokes made special by whoever is at the helm. Sure, there are bits that lag and a few puns that fall flat. But getting on board with our heroes is the meat of the fun; every plant, animal, and magical mystery to come after that is just gravy.

Jungle Cruise is in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access July 30.

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