Setting the revamp squarely in the wheelhouse of blockbuster franchise-starters like “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Romancing the Stone” and “The Mummy,” and pushing the fantastical elements to the point where the story barely seems to be taking place in our universe, it’s a knowingly goofy romp, anchored to the banter between its leads, an English feminist and adventurer played by Emily Blunt and a riverboat captain/adventurer played by Dwayne Johnson.
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Jungle Cruise (2021)
Based on Disneyland’s theme park ride where a small riverboat takes a group of travelers through a jungle filled with dangerous animals and reptiles but with a supernatural element.
Jungle Cruise is a 2021 American fantasy adventure film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra from a screenplay written by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, and Michael Green.
It is based on Walt Disney’s eponymous theme park attraction. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, the film stars Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Édgar Ramírez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti. It tells the alternate history of the captain of a small riverboat who takes a scientist and her brother through a jungle in search of the Tree of Life while competing against a German expedition and cursed conquistadors.
Plans for a feature film based on the Jungle Cruise ride began in 2004. The project lay dormant until 2011. The original version fell through and Johnson joined in 2015. Blunt and the rest of the cast joined in 2018 in a revamped version, with filming taking place in Hawaii and Georgia, from May through September that year. The score was composed by James Newton Howard.
Following a year of post-production and a year of further delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jungle Cruise was finally released in the United States on July 30, 2021, simultaneously in theaters and digitally through Disney+ with Premier Access.
The film received mixed reviews from film critics and underperformed at the box office, grossing $221 million worldwide against a production budget of $200 million. A sequel is in development, with Johnson and Blunt set to reprise their roles.
Jungle Cruise (2021) Trailer
Jungle Cruise (2021) Reviews
Blunt’s character, Lily Houghton, is a well-pedigreed adventurer who gathers up maps belonging to her legendary father and travels to the Amazon circa 1916 to find the Tears of the Moon, petals from a “Tree of Life”-type of fauna that can heal all infirmities. She and her snooty, pampered brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) hire Frank “Skipper” Wolff (Johnson) to bring them to their destination.
The only notable concession to the original theme park ride comes here: Wolff’s day job is taking tourists upriver and making cheesy jokes in the spirit of “hosts” on Disney Jungle Cruise rides of yore. On the mission, Johnson immediately settles into a cranky but funny old sourpuss vibe, a la John Wayne or Harrison Ford, and inhabits it amiably enough, even though buoyant, almost childlike optimism comes more naturally to him than world-weary gruffness.
The supporting cast is stacked with overqualified character players. Paul Giamatti plays a gold-toothed, sunburned, cartoonishly “Italian” harbor master who delights at keeping Frank in debt. Edgar Ramirez is creepy and scary as a conquistador whose curse from centuries ago has trapped him in the jungle.
Jesse Plemons plays the main baddie, Prince Joachim, who wants to filch the power of the petals for the Kaiser back in Germany (he’s Belloq to the stars’ Indy and Marion, trying to swipe the Ark). Unsurprisingly, given his track record, Plemons steals the film right out from under its leads.
But the staging and execution of the chases and fights compensates. Derivative of films that were themselves highly derivative, “Jungle Cruise” has the look and feel of a paycheck gig for all involved, but everyone seems to be having a great time, including the filmmakers.
Jungle Cruise (2021) Credits
Jungle Cruise (2021)
Dwayne Johnson as Frank Wolff
Emily Blunt as Dr. Lily Houghton
Jack Whitehall as McGregor Houghton
Edgar Ramírez as Aguirre
Jesse Plemons as Prince Joachim
Paul Giamatti as Nilo
- Jaume Collet-Serra
- Glenn Ficarra
- Josh Goldstein
- John Norville
- John Requa
- Glenn Ficarra
- John Requa
- Flavio Martínez Labiano
- Joel Negron
- James Newton Howard
Jungle Cruise (2021) Plot
In 1556, Don Aguirre leads Spanish conquistadors to South America to search for the Lágrimas de Cristal[b] Tree, whose flowers cure illness, heal injuries, and lift curses. After many conquistadors die, the Puka Michuna tribe heals the sickened survivors with the Tree’s flowers. When the tribal chief refuses to reveal the Tree’s location, Aguirre stabs him and burns the village. The dying chief curses the conquistadors, making them immortal and unable to leave sight of the Amazon River without being dragged back by the jungle itself.
In 1916 London, Dr. Lily Houghton’s Tears of the Moon research is presented by her brother MacGregor to the Royal Society. The Houghtons, hoping to revolutionize both medicine and the British War Effort, request access to a recently acquired arrowhead artifact, but the request is denied as the Tree is considered a myth and female scientists are disfavored. However, believing the arrowhead and her old Amazon map are the key to finding the Tree, Lily steals it, narrowly evading Prince Joachim, who is equally intent on finding the Tree for Germany.
Arriving in the First Brazilian Republic, Lily and MacGregor search for a guide to navigating the Amazon River. They hire skipper Frank Wolff who offers jungle cruises embellished with faked theatrical dangers and corny puns. He initially declines, citing the dangers of the river and jungle. Frank reconsiders upon seeing the arrowhead. Frank steals back his repossessed boat engine from the harbormaster Nilo and the trio departs after escaping from Joachim’s U-boat.
In Frank’s cabin, Lily finds photos and sketches of modern inventions as well as research on the Tears of the Moon. She accuses him of seeking the Tree, but he insists he gave up long ago. They are captured by the Puka Michuna tribe, disguised as cannibals, but quickly release as they were hired by Frank. Angered, Lily begins to doubt Frank. The tribal chief Trader Sam translates the symbols on the arrowhead, revealing the Tree’s location and that it only blooms under a blood moon.
Meanwhile, Joachim has located the conquistadors petrified inside a cave. He makes Aguirre agree to find the arrowhead for him in exchange for flowers. Joachim diverts the river to free them as Aguirre and his conquistadors are reanimated while fused with rainforest elements. The conquistadors track down and attack the tribe where Frank is stabbed through the heart by Aguirre. Lily flees with the artifact, but vines pull the conquistadors away when they unknowingly lose sight of the river while pursuing her.
To the Houghtons’ amazement, Frank reappears alive. He reveals he is one of the cursed conquistadors, who once wanted to help find the Tears to save Aguirre’s paralyzed daughter. However, he sided with the tribe against Aguirre’s rampage. After years of endless fighting, he trapped his vengeful comrades away from the river’s view, petrifying them. Failing to find the Tree, Frank became a tour guide and built a village.
Lily and Frank continue to La Luna Rota[c] Waterfall and uncover a submerged temple. Meanwhile, Joachim has captured MacGregor and forces him to reveal Lily’s location. Frank, the Houghtons, the Germans, and the conquistadors all converge at the Tree when La Luna Rota’s water is partially drained.
Discovering the arrowhead is a locket with a red gem inside, Lily places the two pieces into carvings in the bark and the Tree briefly blooms under the blood moon. As a fight ensues, Lily recovers one flower. The German soldiers drown, Joachim is crushed by a falling rock, and Frank crashes his boat to block the river, petrifying himself and the rest of the conquistadors to save Lily.
Realizing her true feelings for Frank, Lily sacrifices the flower to lift Frank’s curse and restore his mortality, and he decides to leave the Amazon to be with her. The moon’s last beam blooms a single flower, which Lily takes for research. Returning to the port, Frank sells his business to Nilo.
Upon their successful return to Britain, Lily becomes a full professor at the University of Cambridge. MacGregor rejects an invitation to membership from the Royal Society. Lily and Frank then explore London together as Lily teaches Frank how to drive a car.
Jungle Cruise (2021) Box office
Jungle Cruise grossed $117 million in the United States and Canada and $104 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $221 million. With an estimated combined production and promotional cost of $362 million, the film needed to gross around $500 million worldwide in order to break-even.
In the United States and Canada, Jungle Cruise was released alongside Stillwater and The Green Knight. It was projected to gross around $25 million from 4,310 theaters. The film made $13.4 million on its first day, including $2.7 million from Thursday night previews. It went on to slightly over-perform, debuting at $35 million to top the box office.
The opening was met with a polarized response from industry insiders with some noting the film managed to finish above projections while others blamed the pandemic and simultaneous digital release for eating into possible grosses with one financial insider telling Deadline Hollywood that “the model diminishes the aggregate streaming revenue as well as cuts into a movie’s theatrical gross.” In its second weekend, the film fell 55% to $15.7 million, finishing second behind newcomer The Suicide Squad.
The film made $9 million in its third weekend, $6.2 million in its fourth, and $5 million in its fifth.
In other territories, the film debuted at $27.6 million from 47 markets, below its $40 million projections. Its largest markets were the UK ($3.2 million), France ($1.6 million), and South Korea ($1.2 million). In its second weekend, the film made $15.1 million from 49 markets, with the top running-totals being from the UK ($8.5 million), Russia ($5.9 million), France ($4.2 million), Japan ($4 million), and Saudi Arabia ($2.7 million).
In China it earned $3.3 million during its debut weekend, ranking fifth on the box office charts. This was considered a disappointing opening by media outlets. In the following weekend, it fell to the seventh rank.
Jungle Cruise (2021) Critical Response
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 62% of 340 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.00/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Its craft isn’t quite as sturdy as some of the classic adventures it’s indebted to, but Jungle Cruise remains a fun, family-friendly voyage.”
Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 50 out of 100, based on 52 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A−” on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported that 80% of audience members gave it a positive score, with 60% saying they would definitely recommend it.
Writing for Variety, Owen Gleiberman praised Johnson and Blunt’s chemistry and said that the film is “a little good old-fashioned” and it “pelts the audience with entertainment in such a lively yet bumptious way that at times you may wish you were wearing protective gear.”
Korey Coleman and Martin Thomas of Double Toasted both gave it a relatively positive review; even going so far as to predict that other critics would negatively critique it simply because of its premise. However, they were both split on the portrayal of Jack Whitehall’s character; while Thomas found it as a positive step forward for LGBT characters, Coleman found it somewhat campy and unnecessary.
Rolling Stone reviewer David Fear gave the film 2.5/5 stars and called it an “attempt to sell the Magic Kingdom’s vintage” boat ride as “the next big endless-summer-movie thing”, adding that “Blunt’s tart apple crisp of a comic performance pairs nicely with Johnson’s beefcake served with a side of ham.” In The New York Times, Jeannette Catsoulis wrote a negative review that the film is a “soggy mess” with a “mostly unintelligible” plot, adding that it “exhibits a blatantly faux exoticism that feels as flat as the forced frisson between its two leads”.
Writing for ABC News, reviewer Peter Travers commented that “made up of spare parts from better movies and at over two-hours in length”, the film will be “tough on short attention spans”; however, he added that it is “better than Haunted Mansion and Tomorrowland“, other films based on Disney rides.
Jungle Cruise (2021) Accolades
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipients||Result||Ref.|
|People’s Choice Awards||December 7, 2021||The Comedy Movie of 2021||Jungle Cruise||Nominated|
|The Male Movie Star of 2021||Dwayne Johnson||Won|
|The Comedy Movie Star of 2021||Won|
|AACTA Awards||December 8, 2021||Best Visual Effects or Animation||Rising Sun Pictures||Nominated|
|Visual Effects Society Awards||March 8, 2022||Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature||Alexander Lee, Claus Pedersen, Rasely Ma, Gary Wu (for Aguirre)||Nominated|
|Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature||Mark McNicholl, Frédéric Valleur, Hamish Beachman, Mark Wainwright (for Waterfall Canyon)||Nominated|
|Outstanding Special (Practical) Effects in a Photoreal or Animated Project||JD Schwalm, Nick Rand, Robert Spurlock, Nick Byrd||Won|
|Critics’ Choice Super Awards||March 17, 2022||Best Actor in an Action Movie||Dwayne Johnson||Nominated|
|Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards||April 9, 2022||Favorite Movie||Jungle Cruise||Nominated|
|Favorite Movie Actor||Dwayne Johnson||Nominated|
|Favorite Movie Actress||Emily Blunt||Nominated|
|BMI Film & TV Awards||May 11, 2022||BMI Theatrical Film Awards||James Newton Howard||Won|
Jungle Cruise (2021) Movie Info
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