Disney's Jungle Cruise starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt 'delivers a feast of colourful action'
- Credit: Frank Masi. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Film critic Paul Steward reviews Disney's Jungle Cruise (12A), which can be seen at Royston Picture Palace on Saturday, September 4 and Sunday, September 5, at 2.30pm both days.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Emily Blunt combine forces for this swashbuckling action adventure based on Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise theme park ride.
Blunt stars as Dr Lily Houghton, an intrepid explorer searching for a magical healing tree that could change the future of medicine.
Alongside her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) she enlists wisecracking river boat captain Frank Wolff (Johnson) to be her guide on a trek down the Amazon.
With as many as five credited writers on the film, Jungle Cruise is a rather uneven mish mash of ideas, which borrows elements from a number of classic cinematic adventures.
The Indiana Jones, Mummy and Pirates of the Caribbean films are all clear reference points for the writers.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra, the man behind a string of Liam Neeson action flicks such as Unknown, Non-Stop and The Commuter, does an admirable job of making it all hang together in a coherent way, but the film completely hangs upon the performances of its two leads.
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Blunt, who follows up recent starring roles in Mary Poppins Returns and A Quiet Place Part II, delivers another noteworthy turn and seems completely at home in any genre.
Here she shines as the affable and determined doctor on an admirable quest to improve medicine for all of humanity, despite enduring clear sexism from her peers.
Johnson, a continually charismatic screen presence, is on top form as the enigmatic river boat captain with a never-ending supply of corny dad jokes.
The pair bounce off one another well and it’s that energy which carries the film through.
The supporting characters don’t fare quite as well however. Jack Whitehall is miscast as Lily’s nervous brother, while Edgar Ramírez is forgettable as chief villain Aguirre.
Jesse Plemons is enjoyable as the despicable Prince Joachim, and appears to be having a lot of fun in the role, but Paul Giamatti is wasted in a 'blink and you’ll miss him' bit part.
Technically the film is well constructed and it delivers a feast of colourful action for the school holiday crowd.
While adults may cringe at the recycled plot points, Jungle Cruise will clearly work better for younger viewers unfamiliar with the films it cribs from.
A decent enough family flick which relies heavily on the charm of its leads.
What it lacks in heart and originality, it makes up for with striking visuals and lively escapism.