Nerdlocker Movie Review: Disney’s Jungle Cruise


“Some journeys take us far from home. Some adventures lead us to our destiny.” – C.S. Lewis

These days Disney seems busy doing one of two things; either they’re adapting one of their animated films into live action or they are adapting an attraction from Disneyland into a feature film. A remake of The Haunted Mansion is in early development right now but until its unveiling we finally get to see yet another long delayed adventure originally set for its debut in 2020. Now, in 2021, we can experience the attraction-inspired adventure, Jungle Cruise.

I’ll admit from a personal perspective I wasn’t all that excited for this one, particularly when they gave us the first official trailer. It looked like a Pirates of the Caribbean knock off. The only thing missing was Johnny Depp acting like a drunken moron in eyeliner. However, with the two leads chosen for Jungle Cruise my interest never fully diminished. Say what you will about his movies, Dwayne Johnson is just a likable s.o.b and his heroine counterpart, Emily Blunt, is just about one the most exquisite beings to walk this lowly planet of ours. He’s a leading man through and through and she is every bit as capable as he is and with Jungle Cruise they have come together with a palpable chemistry that is an absolute joy to watch unfold.

They dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge (Patches O’Houlihan) with the best of them and just as convincing with the action they equally bring a force of comedy that will have audiences rolling in their seats. If this isn’t a laugh riot it’ll suffice until one gets here. As well as they play off of one another, individually they are just as engaging as you would hope. Johnson completely nails his role as both leading adventurer and comedic force giving and taking his blows with a graceful kind of aggression. He is pure entertainment in Jungle Cruise. At his side is Blunt being as effervescent and strong willed as ever before. With previous efforts like Edge of Tomorrow and Sicario she has already more than proved her worth as an action star and with Jungle Cruise she truly stretches her wings holding her own with Johnson.

It’s already been said about this movie so I’m simply reiterating the obvious. If you were to take Romancing the Stone, Indiana Jones and sprinkle on some Pirates of the Caribbean you have yourself a grand ol’ adventure sure to be a future classic. It has its epic scenes of action and wonder glossed with beautiful CGI and an imaginative story all pulling from the attraction that opened way back in July of 1955. I think Walt would be proud of this one.

At times Johnson, despite his moments of pure brilliance, performs in a manner that can feel familiar to every other performance he’s given in the past. While I would argue this isn’t necessarily a bad thing it can be a bit repetitive. In a movie that’s supposed to be mystical and unknown something familiar can, at times, make it trip on its own shoelaces. I can’t stress this enough however, this is such a small gripe I debated on whether I should include it or not. Don’t think too much about it, it never becomes significant enough to be a distraction from an otherwise wonderful adventure. All I’m saying is, aside from his comedic moments, the strong man throwing bad guys around is something we’ve seen him do since his wrestling days. Take that how you may.

I would say if anything else feels familiar it’s one of the main villains motivated by betrayal and is power hungry as any before or after him. The appearance of the villains is straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean and definitely makes it feel as if the same animators worked on both projects. Funny enough, an elevating factor is the second villain running about motivated to win the big war of the 1940’s, you know what war I’m talking about. Prince Joachim is played spectacularly by Jesse Plemons who is an absolute scene stealer from the moment he is first on screen. In a movie filled with tremendous performances his is a definite standout. He is somehow simultaneously heinous and hilarious, always finding a pitch perfect delivery no matter the scene. I look forward to his starring role in Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. I predict a nomination in his future come awards season.

Jungle Cruise took my low expectations and showed me that sometimes it actually can work out better than expected if only given the chance to shine. And believe me, Jungle Cruise shines brighter than many this year. The surprising outcome of Jungle Cruise being a fantastic adventure film for the whole family is highly reminiscent of Johnson’s other franchise winner, the Jumanji sequels. First news of those felt like an insult to Robin Williams’ legacy when in reality they ended up paying homage to the past and welcoming a bright future for that franchise. Maybe Jungle Cruise can be the first of many, a franchise of endless escapades. If the first is a sign of what could be, I am all the way in. Jungle Cruise just may be the surprise hit of the summer. If you are vaccinated (like a responsible adult) and love the big screen like I do, check it out at a theater near you. It’s big, beautiful and ready to entertain at the highest level.

Rated PG-13 For: sequences of adventure violence
Runtime: 127 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Jesse Plemons, Jack Whitehall
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 9/ Acting: 9.5/ Directing: 9/ Visuals: 10
OVERALL: 9.5 Nerdskulls

Buy to Own: Yes

Check out the trailer below:

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Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard