Jungle Cruise: Based on a Theme Park Ride!
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, Disney’s Jungle Cruise is a mess. This atrocious escapade is only mildly interesting and fails to entertain at nearly every turn. It feels like everyone was miscast or joined a movie whose story changed considerably. Half a dozen writers worked on this movie, and it shows in the long and drawn-out way that the story unfolds alongside hastily constructed character arcs. Jungle Cruise is a bad marriage between The African Queen and Pirates of the Caribbean, and I couldn’t wait for it to end.
In fact, the plot is a sloppy three-way between the Pirates series, Indiana Jones, and Tomb Raider. Jungle Cruise is not just confusing, it’s exhausting. It didn’t need to be so complicated. The beginning starts out with the Conquistadors and rapidly transports us to Emily Blunt’s character as she tries to steal the Magoffin heal-all that no one forces her to find. She has no real reason to seek it out, and it’s not until later that she has a use for it. Don’t get me started on Jesse Plemons’s role as a German officer in charge of a ragtag submarine crew, who also happen to be seeking out the MacGuffin.
Halfway through, I thought I was drunk. Not since the Star Wars sequels have I witnessed such an overly complicated story that somehow manages to say nothing at all. Making matters worse are some odd performances alongside some rather flat ones as well. Save for Paul Giamatti, everyone is sporting bad accents and their roles are ancillary to say the least. The Rock isn’t bad and chose the smart route of speaking as he normally does. His performance is fine, but the script makes every one of these ill-suiting characters fall flat no matter the scene. There are great actors in this movie, but the script and story arrest their artistic potential, snuffing it out against a plot that is more suited to a short and sweet adventure film instead of a lengthy epic.
The most glaring problem with Jungle Cruise is that it’s not meant for any one audience. It’s as if they needed to squeeze in attractive story elements from a bunch of different genres in order to cast the widest audience net. Seven different writing credits points to the kind of collaborative calamity that follows fantastically sub-par films, like Waterworld and Battlefield Earth. Jungle Cruise belongs side-by-side with those deplorable titles, goose-stepping their way to the dusty corners of lackluster movie collections, cozying up with Harlem Nights and Batman and Robin. Jungle Cruise lingers like a lackadaisical plague, waiting to disperse its malarial story unto unsuspecting audiences. Avoid this flea-bitten malady at all costs, dear Mediums, lest you perpetuate the cyclically recycled storytelling Disney calls film.