Given the whole Johnny Depp fiasco and how skittish Disney tends to be when it comes to tackling controversies, it is understandable why the company is now fishing for new franchises. The recently released Jungle Cruise is a part of this new crusade of Disney’s. But while no other actors would have been better than Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt as the lead characters, it would have done wonders for the film and its potential for future projects if it had a well-crafted story that was not being held afloat by its able cast.
For those who don’t know, the film is based on the riverboat amusement ride available in various Disney theme parks. The story of Jungle Cruise begins with Dr. Lily Houghton stealing an ancient Arrowhead that will allow her to find the magical tree which grows petals known as Tears of the Moon. The myth says that the petal can heal any ailment, anything, even the soul. So, the bold and brave Lily along with her timid and fashion-conscious brother, MacGregor (John Whitehall), hires Dwayne Johnson’s Frank to take them to the Amazon river where the tree can be found.
But as the Jungle Cruise is an oddball mixture of Pirates of the Caribbean and the Indiana Jones films, there are perils and corny jokes hidden along for the ride. And while the corny jokes actually succeed in making us smile, even laugh out loud, and appraise the easy chemistry between Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson (our new favorite reel couple btw), everything else falls flat.
More often than not, the story of Jungle Cruise gives a strong impression of being improvised right off the bat while the film was being shot. Twists are less shocking and more…baffling as the context in which they occur doesn’t lend them much sense. So, when big revelations are made, they don’t elicit the silent “Whoa!” the film desperately needed to come off as an intelligent work of fiction. Not only that, the CGI isn’t that impressive either considering this is a Disney production, so all that is really holding the film together is Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt’s acting skills and charisma. And they do make the story seem all lively and worth following as they deftly navigate even the directionless story they have been thrust into. If you seek the means to escape the dreary lifestyle our lives had been since 2020 thanks to the pandemic, Jungle Cruise is your answer.
But will it be enough to warrant a second film and turn Jungle Cruise into a franchise? Well, if it manages to churn enough revenue and doesn’t bring home the title of being the most pirated film like the recently released Black Widow, we may see the pair of Frank and Lily embarking on a second adventure in the future because even if Jungle Cruise ain’t a good story, it is a thrilling ride as long as you don’t poke at its flimsy foundation.