Disney making a film based off one of their theme park attractions is something you'd used to consider a risk however, thanks to the insane financial success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise across five films, it's no longer such a major risk. Throw in bankable stars such as Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, and you're pretty much on to a winner. With Jungle Cruise, that's exactly what Disney have done, a no expense spared trip down the Amazon based on one of their most iconic theme park attractions that feels like a throwback to adventure films of the past.

Set during the early 20th century, riverboat captain Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) transports British scientist Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), and her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall), on a mission into a jungle to find the Tree of Life, which is believed to possess healing powers that could be of great benefit to modern medicine. All the while, the trio must fight against dangerous wild animals, a hot and deadly environment, and a competing Imperial German expedition that is determined to find the tree first.

Jungle Cruise is a film mainly aimed at children but we all know that doesn't mean there won't be plenty for the whole family to enjoy. It's a family film that Disney often excel at, big sweeping action happening every so often between a barrage of jokes (dad ones in this case) and villainous escapades done with plenty of flare. The balance is there and done just right in Jungle Cruise, Jaume Collet-Serra's background in horror helping forge some fascinating creature designs for children to hide from behind their hands.

It's a very CGI-heavy film, which is to be expected these days, and some of it really does look a little garish, which feels a little bit of a let down considering how much money Disney pumped into this project. That being said, most of it does look great and plays a big part in making Jungle Cruise such a blast of an adventure film that owes a lot to the likes of The Mummy and Romancing the Stone. I always feel a film of this ilk needs a rousing score and it certainly does have that from James Newton Howard.

Jungle Cruise has two very charismatic lead performances at its disposal to make the audience have even more fun with proceedings. Dwayne Johnson is almost in cruise control as the beefcake adventurer tasked with the helping the brother and sister duo to find the mythical tree. Emily Blunt continues her hot streak with another fierce performance against the machismo of Johnson, who she shares great chemistry with.

Jack Whitehall was a performance I was a little worried about going in as he very much had a lot of potential to be an irritating character. I'm glad to be proven wrong though because Whitehall is genuinely one of the less irritating aspects of the film as a whole. For me, it's Jesse Plemons as the pompous villain, Prince Joachim, who steals the show, something which can be said of Plemons in just about anything he's appeared in. 

So, jump onboard for the adventure of the summer with Johnson and Blunt. Expect it to be a big hit at the box-office and in homes via Premier Access on Disney+ however, I like the fact that this doesn't feel all that sequel baiting as you'd expect.

Verdict: ★★★★


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