Jungle Cruise (2021)

Short version: The Mummy in the Jungle, staring new Mary Poppins as not-Evie, The Rock in place of Rick, and an even more annoying English bloke!

Yeah, okay, that’s harsh. I did actually quite enjoy this, but it’s very much on the ‘family friendly’ daft fun level. It’s both helped and hindered by the fact that it 90% copies The Mummy (the good one, with Brendan Fraser, not the awful Tom Cruise one) with a sprinkling taken from Pirates of the Caribbean, styling via The African Queen, and I’m sure a few other places.

Let’s see. Evie – I mean, Lily, another feisty, independent, academic-type being spurned by the establishment for her gender – is obsessed with the legend of the Tears of the Moon (no, look, it only rhymes with Anuk-su-namun, totes different!), a magic tree petal that can cure anything. Legend has it that a group of Spanish Conquistadors stumbled into the secret back in the 16th Century, but after slaughtering the local tribe, were cursed with a rubbish kind of immortality.

Fast forward to 1916, and Dr Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) drags her foppish brother, MacGregor (Jack Whitehall), to the Amazonian jungle. There they enlist the services of river boat captain, Frank (Dwayne Johnson), and go searching for myths whilst fighting the dangers of the river, the wildlife (content warning: 2 lorge spiders, not too bad (I’m an utter arachnophobe), and many many snakes but more on the CGI’d side), the locals, the legends, and for some reason, a submarine. Just… go with it.

It would be so, so very, easy to just slate this to bits. It’s completely unoriginal, but in a very superficial way I actually thought it was a lot of fun. I think a lot of your tolerance will be based on the cast – personally, I think The Rock is generally great fun, even with all of the ride-accurate awful puns. Ah yes, this – like Pirates of the Caribbean – is based on a Disneyland ride. Looked at like that, it’s a small wonder they’ve made something as semi-decent as they have.

You can’t fault the special effects, really, or the scenery, or indeed the sense of adventure. I could well imagine the 4DX version of the river rapids scene, being thrown about the chair and doused with as much water as the tiny sprays could manage. It’s that kind of movie: high on spectacle, somewhat lacking in actual substance.

If I’m going to find one big fault, it’s that the supporting roles were rather pantomime, particularly Paul Giamatti and Jesse Plemons. Conversely, the Conquistadors were played very seriously, led by Edgar Ramirez, but we didn’t get enough of them, in my opinion, or at least not a well-enough crafted thread to properly introduce them or their story.

And for all that, it was fun enough. It’s one to take the kids to, and not mind having to watch it with them, I suppose, but my overall feeling was that even without kids, I didn’t mind at all having sat through this at the end of a stressy work week. Make of that what you will 😉

Released: 30th July 2021
Viewed: 6th August 2021
Running time: 127 minutes
Rated: 12A

My rating: 7/10

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