“Jungle Cruise” was released in theaters and on Disney+ (at an additional cost, yes), inspired by a Disneyland attraction, as was already “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Its plot revolves around the search for a magical tree with healing powers in the Amazon jungle and stars Emily Blunt (as botanist Lily Houghton ) and Dwayne Johnson (as Frank , a sea captain). Frank will be in charge of taking Lily and her brother De Ella McGregor ( Jack Whitehall ) on their journey through the Amazon River.
This was all I knew when the movie began. Well, that and that the director is Jaume Collet-Serra , although the truth is that I didn’t remember this information until well into the second act. I hadn’t even gotten to see a full trailer, so I was pretty much blind to what I was going to find.
First impressions…were not good. And his villains are to blame for that, with whom the story begins. On one side are the supernaturals: cursed Spanish conquistadors. On the other, the most earthly (impossible to call it realistic), anchored in the historical present in which the film is set, which is the beginning of the 20th century. We’re in the middle of the Great War, so obviously the bad guy is a German. The Kaiser’s youngest son, to be exact. Jesse Plemons plays it wonderfully, but it’s still a complete caricature that made me laugh and reject in equal measure. This, added to the whiff of black legend that the conquest scenes gave me, did not bode well.Am I complaining about clichés and caricatures in a Disney adventure movie? Really? Well yes, I do. I know, I know… when we decide to watch a movie like this, we don’t do it looking for a history lesson, precisely. Even so, the classification as villains of the same as always, which is already a constant in Hollywood, tires a lot.
On the other hand, I have noticed that there is a certain confusion when it comes to world wars. In the first there were no Nazis. Because it is very comfortable to situate any story in the context of Nazism if you are looking for recognizable villains, who do not need an introduction and who you want to see instantly defeated. But it is a problem when this characterization is extended to previous decades. The subconscious fills in the gaps and it’s easy to place the label. German? In a war? It must be bad by force, yes, and the more exaggerated the better.
It is also at least ironic that, with the Spanish example, a subtle but clear anti-colonialist message is launched. So far so good, nothing to object to, but when your protagonists are English… Anyway, one can only try not to roll one’s eyes. Let us not forget that this is Anglo-Saxon cinema.Luckily and perhaps because, as I mentioned before, the director is Jaume Collet-Serra, the plot of the conquerors is not as hackneyed as might be expected and even contains an interesting twist. Also, playing two of them we have Quim Gutiérrez and Dani Rovira , who made me very funny, partly (or mostly) because I didn’t expect them.
Despite all my qualms and qualms, I decided to let myself go. It was not difficult. Everything is quite familiar in “Jungle Cruise”. The different elements fit together as if assembled on an assembly line, following the instructions dictated by market surveys, and the Disney formula can be seen from miles away. But oh, formulas exist for a reason: they work. Based on bad jokes (I have never been able to resist puns) and with the adventurous spirit that brings back memories of “Indiana Jones” or “The Mummy”, “Jungle Cruise” gradually won me over.
It’s nothing new or a masterpiece, but it wouldn’t be fair to judge it for something it doesn’t claim to be. Because what he wants, he gets.
What it loses in originality, it gains by providing just what we have come to look for. It is the feeling of comfort that comes from sitting in your favorite armchair, but recently upholstered.Here we find fun, adventures, humor, characters with enough charisma and who like each other, actors with good chemistry between them, beauty on stage, cute animals, magic and even romance. It’s nothing really new or a masterpiece, but it wouldn’t be fair to judge it for something it doesn’t claim to be. Because what he wants, he gets. You can’t ask the elm for pears and get angry with the elm when he doesn’t give them to you, right?
There are also attempts to add diversity, such as the inclusion of an explicitly gay character, which is good news (even more so for a Disney family movie of this budget), although the choice of this particular character seems questionable to me. We return to the clichés and clichés, which make it not very clear if the decision is a success or only reinforces harmful stereotypes about masculinity. At least the intention is good. I’ll try not to be too cynical this time.
On the whole, and above all else, “Jungle Cruise” entertains. For two hours it has managed to disconnect from the world, it has made me laugh and it has not bored me. Nothing more and nothing less. If that is what you are looking for, do not hesitate to see it.