According to legend, the Tree of Life grows in the Amazon jungle, the flowers of which are able to resurrect the dead. The local natives carefully hide this tree, and when in the sixteenth century the conquistador Aguirre set off for the tree with a search expedition, this expedition did not return with a victory. Actually, she did not return at all, but she left maps that show how to get to the Tree.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the cards fell into the hands of an energetic lady, Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt). Lily is going to find a tree and make all mankind happy, but snobby scientists from the London Geographical Society refuse to finance her expedition: they do not trust energetic ladies, then it was not accepted.
But Lily is not going to back down! With a deft maneuver, she removed the tip of an Indian arrow from the storerooms of society, which should indicate the path to the tree, took her mannered brother McGregor (Jack Whitehall) with her and went to Brazil in Porto Velho, from where her journey should begin.
In Porto Velho, Lily was going to charter a ship from the ship owner Mr. Nilo (Paul Giamatti), but the order was intercepted by local entrepreneur Frank Wolf (Dwayne Johnson): he has his own boat, on which he arranges pleasure trips along the Amazon. Frank desperately needs money, he offers Lily a big discount and assures that no one but him is able to deliver a brave woman with her mannered brother to the very wilderness where, according to legend, the Tree of Life is located.
Their journey will be quite dangerous anyway, and here the situation is complicated by the fact that the German prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) is also hunting for the Tree, who hopes to help Germany win the war with the help of magic leaves. Joachim has a well-armed submarine and soldiers under his command, so it will be difficult to get rid of him.
And in the jungles of Brazil there are not only many, many wild monkeys, but there is also a detachment of those same Spanish conquistadors, cursed for centuries, led by Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez).
As you know, there is nothing impossible in filming an attraction from Disneyland: the multibillion-dollar franchise “Pirates of the Caribbean” by Mount Verbinski proved this perfectly to everyone. However, pirates are pirates (the last film of the franchise was in 2017, and nothing has been heard about the continuation yet), but the attractions in Disneyland – do not get out of there at least for weeks, so Disney continued to think about filming some more of them.
The idea of a film adaptation of one of the most famous Disneyland attractions “Jungle Cruise” at Disney Studios has been hatched since 2004 – in the wake of the success of the first “Pirates”. Dwayne Johnson’s candidacy as Captain Frank emerged in 2007, and Johnson himself suggested Patty Jenkins as the director (she made the world happy with Wonder Woman in 2017). However, this candidacy did not suit the studio, and in the end they entrusted this two hundred millionth project to the director of Catalan origin, Jaume Collet-Serra, who was known for a couple of more or less successful action films with Liam Neeson (one of them is “Air Marshal”), he also staged the horror “House of Wax” that failed at the box office, which, by the way, is also based on a Disney attraction.
The film was completed back in the fall of 2018, but the studio did not like the results of the test screenings, so certain reshoots and other editing options were made, and then the coronavirus madhouse arrived in time, so the movie was released to theaters only in 2021, while simultaneously launching the show on the streaming Disney+ service.
What did they actually get? I must say that “Jungle Cruise” is an extremely unoriginal movie. Just ridiculous. The beginning is one on one “The Mummy”: the fighting and decisive Rachel Weisz Emily Blunt made John Hannah’s mannered brother Jack Whitehall and they, in company with the cool Brendan Fraser Duane Jones, set off on a terrible adventure where they will have to face the mummy of the damned conquistadors.
The purpose of the trip is the Holy Grail Tree of Life, which, like in the last crusade of Indiana Jones, is being hunted by almost damned Nazis, although they are not Nazis yet, but simply Germans.
Well, colorful, albeit somewhat battered by time and endured suffering, the conquistadors are taken as if from Pirates of the Caribbean.
So with the inventing of something original, they didn’t take a steam bath at all, the originality in the picture is zero point zero tenths.
Nevertheless, it all looks quite cheerful and does not cause a desire to immediately turn it off. Emily Blunt is a good actress, and Lily turned out to be bright, independent, militant, but at the same time quite feminine and pretty.
Dwayne Johnson plays Frank well. He is actually a good comedian (what he did in “Be cool” is something with something!), despite the reputation of the toughest guy, an action hero. And here the role was quite ironic, and, in my opinion, it suits Johnson quite well.
Our expectations with the cat Bublik that between Frank and Lily, against the background of their light bickering, there will be obvious sympathy, clearly turning into love-love-love, was not particularly confirmed: there is neither “chemistry” nor physics between their characters, and in geometry they they don’t match very well. But this, apparently, was intended that way, because this is Disney, although the picture seems to be 12+, not 6+: for 12+, they could let in at least a little romance, why bother? Well, yes, they did close up the final bezeshka, because without it it would be completely strange, but she was also quite chaste.
Some of the secondary characters were especially poignant. Jesse Plemons absolutely selflessly pulled off in the role of the German Prince Joachim (and he really looks like a German), spoke with a very funny German accent, and this prince was just very funny! And when his highness was effectively shy from two machine gun barrels mounted on his highness’s submarine, under Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” – it was just fine!
My favorite actor, Paul Giamatti, played a shipowner of Italian origin here: he played, as usual, brilliantly, it’s a pity that there were quite a few of him. But Bublik and I signed a petition to Disney asking for a stand-alone movie featuring Senor Nilo’s adventures in the Amazon Delta or somewhere else.
Also in the area of the Pukamichuna tribe, an Indian woman was discovered, who was well played by Veronica Falcon – and I’m just now watching the second season of Why Women Kill, where Veronica Falcon has an interesting role as Caterina Castillo.
Well, from the familiar actors: as Aguirre, the head of the Spanish (and what else?) Conquistadors, Edgar Ramirez lit up, who played Ilyich Ramirez Sanchez in the TV series “Carlos”, which I’m still going to watch, also the famous Spanish actor and stand-up artist Dani Rovira, who on “IMDB” was called in the American manner “Dani”, although he is Dani, he played here one of the conquistadors.
From the point of view of special effects and computer graphics, everything is more or less good here: a hand-drawn jaguar is drawn quite decently, all sorts of submarines, frozen conquistadors, ancient cities and the culmination in the final impress, although it seemed to me and Bublik that it was still two hundred million does not pull. But we immediately admit that we are not able to determine the amounts spent by the studio purely by eye, but from the point of view of the impression – everything is quite decent here, we will not throw a stone at Disney, especially since then we are not smiling to pick up these stones and talk to them.
What is the result? A one-time spectacle, which is quite possible to watch – that’s our verdict. Secondarily, unoriginally, a new franchise is definitely not in store for us, but Bublik and I didn’t regret watching this film, because as a relaxed new adventure film with decent main actors, good secondary actors, and great cameo actors, that’s what we don’t got a long time, when the dominance of superhero movies really began to strain a little.
Here, of course, not “The Mummy” and not “Indiana Jones”, but watchable and do not want to scold. But, by the way, this, of course, is by no means the new “Pirates of the Caribbean”, Captain Jack Sparrow in their drawbar.
Jungle Cruise movie review
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra Cast: Emily Blunt, Dwayne Johnson, Edgar Ramirez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, Paul Giamatti, Veronica Falcon, Andy Nyman, Philip Maximilian, Dani Rovira
Budget: $200 million
Adventure, USA, 2021, 127 min.