Jungle Cruise (12A)
- Credit: Disney Enterprises
This is a Disney film of the type they don't make anymore – a Disney kids film. Not a family film but a kid's film.
Of course, with a 12A rating, it is far too violent and scary for small children to actually watch, but its appeal is similar to films like Herbie Rides Again or One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing which worked for me when I was young. The humour is silly and the emotions are straightforward. While almost all family entertainment has to be knowing these days, Jungle Cruise is innocent and guileless.
It may have cost around $200 million to make, but beneath all the top-notch CGI, it's basically an old-fashioned B-movie.
Being a Hollywood scriptwriter may sound like a position doused in glamour, but they're really just highly remunerated worker drones. When the boss says 'do us a movie script based on a ride at our themes parks', off you go and find a narrative for it. The ride itself is loosely inspired by The African Queen, so the central pairing is a rough and ready boat captain (Johnson) and an abrasive English lady (Blunt) bickering as they travel downriver on his small boat during World War One. Everything else is just nicked from Raiders of the Lost Ark: a quest for a mythical lifegiving source pursued by a German submarine.
There's nothing new here but it's well-executed and some of the production design is easy on the eye. Ultimately though, it's the stars that make it. Clearly, Disney enjoyed Blunt's turn as Mary Poppins so much they asked her to do it again but in prim Lara Croft fancy dress. (Jungle Cruise was shot in 2018 before they found out that Mary Poppins Returns wasn't going to be a hit.) She's adept at making haughty characters audience friendly and has a good on-screen rapport with Johnson, who is the usual good-natured lunk.
Foisted between them is Jack Whitehall as her chinless wonder brother. He is the comic relief and he's fine. Maybe he has a future as a 21st century Ian Carmichael. 3/5 stars.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramírez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons and Paul Giamatti. In cinemas or available on Disney + premium. Running time: 127 mins.
http://www.halfmanhalfcritic.com/ for a review of THE Suicide Squad