Jaume Collet-Serra’s Jungle Cruise is a classic adventure film for the family. Like its predecessor, Pirates of the Caribbean, this film based on the theme park attraction, had to tell a story that complimented the ride. The film largely accomplishes that by first featuring some stunning effects to capture the essence of the Amazon in the early 1900s. Secondly, the film leans on its stellar cast headed by Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson. Finally, while the film draws on some familiar beats to tell its story, it features a surprisingly original plot to keep audiences engaged.
CGI Done Right
Computer-generated effects have come a long way in the film industry. Now, most of the time it takes to produce a big-budget film has to do with computer-generated effects. The problem is many films do a poor job of blending live-action with CGI. In the case of Jungle Cruise, we get a film that, while it relies heavily on CG effects, you feel a tangible connection between the characters, the landscapes, and the period. One thing that immediately stands out is the visual homage to the Jungle Cruise ride. You get the same feeling watching the film as you do when standing in line for the ride. The CGI sells the effect of being deep in the Amazon on an old-fashion adventure.
The entire cast of Jungle Cruise creates the fun and adventurous atmosphere of the film.Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson have a light, playful dynamic that you can’t help but root for. Jack Whitehall brings more humor to the Amazon with his delicate, fish out of water persona. On the opposite side, Jesse Plemons gives a hysterically campy and classic villainous performance as Prince Joachim. Edgar Ramírez, playing the true villain, adds dimensionality to the role of Aguirre, and we get a good sense of his motivations. Each of these talented performers gives the film its heart.
A Suprisingly Good Tale
The most surprising element of Jungle Cruise is its solidly crafted story. While not entirely original, the story brings in legend and myth from the early Spanish conquistadors, which gives the film a Pirates of the Caribbean flavor. We get the undead brought back to life to give the hero’s a run for their money. Surprisingly though, the story of the conquistadors is oddly grounded, and anyone can empathize with their motivations. The film also contains a remarkably good twist that you won’t see coming. All of those elements, when combined with the classic adventure serial approach to filmmaking, create a film that is surprisingly good and suitable for people of any age.