Jungle Cruise (AU- M/UK - 12/US - PG-13)

In a Word: Rollicking

Jungle Cruise

Jack Whitehall stars as MacGregor, Emily Blunt as Lily and Dwayne Johnson as Frank in Disney's Jungle Cruise. PICTURE: Frank Masi/© 2021 Disney Enterprises, Inc All Rights Reserved.

Based on a Disneyland ride of the same name, Jungle Cruise is a fantasy adventure film set in the wilds of the Amazon during World War I. 

Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock) is a the skipper of the rather decrepit riverboat, La Quila, offering tourists a chance to see some of the local wildlife in the Amazon basin (or at least his version of it). In debt to the avaricious Mr Nilo (Paul Giamatti) - owner of all the other boats in the riverport, the ever scheming Frank is on the brink of economic ruin (not, it seems an unusual situation) when he encounters researcher Dr Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and her foppish brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) who have come to the Amazon from England on a mission to find the 'Tears of the Moon' - flowers, said to hold mystical healing powers.

 "Jungle Cruise is rather like a roller coaster with dizzying action sequences, plenty of talk of ancient legends and curses and a plot which twists its way across the film much as the rivers they follow through the jungle. It all gets a little bit incomprehensible at the end, but then, this movie is not about making sense."

Lily is in possession of an arrowhead inscribed with ancient writing said to hold the secret to finding the tears which she and her brother stole from the archives of a venerated institution in London just as they were about to sell it to a German, Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons), who intends to use the tears to help his country win the war. Naturally, he is now in hot pursuit of the item.

In the vein of Pirates of the Caribbean (another Disney ride which was turned into a series of films) and with a nod to other recent films starring Johnson including two Jumanji sequels (not to mention the adventure classic Raiders of the Lost Ark), Jungle Cruise is rather like a roller coaster with dizzying action sequences, plenty of talk of ancient legends and curses, and a plot which twists its way across the film much as the rivers do across the ancient maps they're following. It all gets a little bit incomprehensible at the end, but then, this movie was never meant to be taken too seriously.

There's some great larger-than-life, almost, at times, cartoonish characters (other actors among the supporting cast include Edgar Ramírez and Veronica Falcón and a brief appearance from Andy Nyman), lavishly detailed sets and plenty of humour - even Frank's puns, apparently taken directly from the ride, will get a smile. But there are also some scary "jump in your seat" moments too (making it not suitable for younger children). 

Pure escapism, Jungle Cruise is ideal for anyone wanting to completely step into another reality for a couple of hours (much like going on the ride itself). Hop aboard!

Jungle Cruise is at cinemas and can also be seen on Disney+ Premier Access.