Movies

Jungle Cruise: Great Actors, Convoluted Plot

Movie Review (with spoilers):

Jungle Cruise (2021)

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Great actors
  • Cool CGI
  • Engaging setting
  • Intriguing side villains
  • Disney’s second gay character
  • Funny at times…and very punny

Cons

  • Convoluted plot
  • One-note main villain

Warning! Spoilers Below!

Review

When I heard that Disney made a movie based off of a theme park attraction, I had low expectations. Despite my expectations, I had hope that Jungle Cruise might be a simple comedy that would generate at least a few laughs. It is more of a fantasy adventure film with some comedic elements. It turned out, however, that my low expectations were unwarranted.

All legends are born in truth.”

The fantasy part of the movie comes from a legend of the tears of the moon, blossoms from a tree that can heal any ailment. Don Aguirre and a band of conquistadors try to find the tree in 1556 to heal Aguirre’s sick daughter. The Puka Michuna tribe took in and healed the struggling, ill conquistadors as they struggled with their quest. When the Puka Michuna tribe refused to give the location of the tree, Aguirre and most of the other conquistadors turned on them and killed their chief. The dying chief cast a curse on the conquistadors, making them immortal (which most people wouldn’t consider a curse) and unable to be far from the river without being pulled back to it by the jungle.

As far as flashbacks go, this was a helpful one and interesting as well. The curse is somewhat unique because it is tied to the river water.

Fast forward to 1916 when Dr. Lily Houghton is stealing a precious artifact while her brother MacGregor is presenting her work to the Royal Society, who reject it because they are biased against women and also do not believe in the legend.

We meet Joachim, the one-note villain who wants the blossoms for the war effort in Germany. The two notable things about him are his temper and strong accent, both of which are made fun of in the movie. Like I mentioned in the cons, he does not have much depth to him.

Frank is a worthy addition to the sister-brother team, a river skipper with more experience than anyone could have anticipated. The chemistry between Frank and Lily is fun to watch even though it is a more awkward romance. But Skippy x Pants (Frank x Lily) is sweet and amusing.

Know this about the jungle—everything you see wants to kill you—and can.”

Frank

The jungle is a fascinating place filled with dangers. The director went to a lot of trouble to make the sights and sounds of the jungle come to life, from river dolphins to piranhas.

Franks loves puns and jokes, so those are peppered throughout, just like they are on the theme park attraction.

Additional villains get introduced including Aguirre, who was trapped where the jungle couldn’t bring him back to the water. They have been trapped there so long that they have become part of the jungle. This is where some of the best CGI comes in.

The bee man is probably the coolest design.

When Aguirre catches up with Frank, Lily, and MacGregor, Frank gets stabbed through the heart and left for dead. I have to say I was not even remotely surprised he survived. I was a little more surprised that he was an immortal named Francisco who had been alive for hundreds of years. He was one of the conquistadors, the adopted brother of Aguirre.

Except the other conquistadors hate him because he took the side of the tribe rather than siding with them. He was the one who later trapped them away from the river where the jungle could not take them back, cursing them with the current forms.

The whole conquistador story is interesting, and they are formidable foes. It’s hard to really feel sorry for them because they are kind of jerks regardless of whether their initial goal was kindhearted.

Someone who is kindhearted is MacGregor. Some people have said he is a bundle of gay stereotypes, and he is. But he is very likeable, especially when he goes with the flow. He is heavily implied to be gay, his interests lay “elsewhere” than women. I think for Disney this is a small step in the right direction, but they could have done better.

The ending was predictable but not bad. I enjoyed it overall. I don’t plan on spoiling that in case you still haven’t watched it and want to.

I would recommend it for anyone who likes adventure movies, ages 13 plus. Not a masterpiece but an enjoyable ride, much like its theme park attraction counterpart.

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2 thoughts on “Jungle Cruise: Great Actors, Convoluted Plot”

  1. The costume design looks cool! Great review! I haven’t seen this movie yet because I wasn’t sure if it would be good. Dwane Johnson films tend to be hit or miss in my experience. It sounds cool though, the conquistador story sounds cool. I love a good pun-filled adventure! I may have to check it out now.

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