In a word: Chaotic To be fair, this reviewer is an old-timer who is generally critical of spectacular adventure movies that often entails over-the-top spectacular action scenes including feats that are humanly impossible, one scene after another, over and over and over again. Many of the critical scenes are undoubtedly shot, cut or enhanced, by back-room techies because real humans simply could not survive the “adventures.” Such movies, including “Jungle Cruise,” offer not one ounce of plausibility in the 2-plus hour storyline.
But, we must acknowledge the fantasy world out there in movie-land, where producers and actors are adept at making mega-millions of dollars, which is really what it’s all about. In that regard, “Jungle Cruise” will undoubtedly evolve into one of the great fantasy/adventure films of all time, costing at least $200 million for production, plus another $100 million in marketing costs.
The storyline is not complicated despite the whopping price-tag to produce. The primary characters, Doctor Lily Houghton, a British scientist (played beautifully by Emily Blunt) and wise-cracking, riverboat captain, Frank Wolff, played by former wrestling champion, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, (6’5”) likely the most in-demand star in the movie world of today.
Set around 1914 in Brazil and later, the Amazon River, a tramp steamer captain (Johnson) reluctantly agrees to take a pair of scientists (Blunt and her aide brother) down the Amazon in search of the Tree of Life Flower, which supposedly has miraculous healing properties. (a weak motive indeed) In doing so, Johnson, Blunt and a small crew, encounter many harrowing obstacles, including hordes of dangerous wild animals, fish and insects, not to mention river rapids and waterfalls, plus human conquistadors still living in caves from 400 years past.
To be “blunt” – the storyline is absurd, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is the survival of Johnson and Blunt in the wild and the ability to carry on to the following scenes without a scratch. One would think the two premier actors, famous and adept as they are, would have had better chemistry, but that doesn’t matter either. What matters is the awe of fantasyland and the repeating survival of its inhabitants. One could not, for a second, endure the endless array of “dangerous” terrain, wild animals, perilous obstacles, flying creatures and more. The movie could conceivably see a nomination for best special effects and, perhaps, costume design, photography or even, background music.
To be fair, Dwayne Johnson does give us a decent performance. Emily Blunt, as always, is a first-class actress.
Interesting to note, (according to trivia) Tom Hanks and Tim Allen had been involved in talks to star in a different iteration of the same project back in 2011.
I give the movie a 7.5 out of 10.