Monday, August 2, 2021

Jungle Cruise

I took myself out to this movie last night, and I had a good time. It was derivative fun, but I emphasize fun. It's all about what you derive it from, I guess. The movie, starring Dwayne Johnson (no longer sticking "The Rock" between his names), Emily Blunt, yadda yadda, and Paul Giamatti, is based on a Disney ride (I think), and if that makes you think of Pirates of the Caribbean, I won't stop you. (To be fair, Pirates was based on a live show at a Vegas casino, wasn't it?)

And anyway, where Pirates has undead, like, pirates, Jungle Cruise has undead conquistadores. It's also got a fair bit of similarity to the classic Indiana Jones movies, all pureed together in a probably celluloid-free blender, what with imposing ancient ruins concealed behind puzzles, booby traps and curses, and a maguffin that can only be found when a certain moon is shining through a certain hole in the roof, and a bunch of Krauts who are auch after it, and a score by James Newton Howard that sounds exactly like something John Williams would have written for a Spielberg swashbuckler.

Carrying on with the parallelism, its protagonists include a beautiful, tough, pants-wearing female (in this case, her pants-wearing is frequently commented on); a ruggedly solitary, somewhat (in this case, very) disreputable treasure seeker with whom said female reluctantly develops a mutual attraction; an (in this case, not very) ambiguously gay, upper-class sidekick; a ridiculously tame and intelligent wild animal; and a sympathetic native with a commanding presence.

The hero girl in this flick is at least equally the hero with the guy, though; she does as much saving of him as he of her. Emily Blunt is the Indy type, and who or what Dwayne Johnson's character is, actually comes as a surprise. Other than that, there's non-stop danger, action, laughs, romance and eyeball candy, all swirled together in a big, loud, scenic parfait, or whatever the Portuguese word is. I heartily endorse it to anyone who was reluctant to go in for what looks, at first glance, like another Jumanji movie. Unoriginal in all the good ways, it boasts a good period look, fun character interplay, weird villains, spiffy Amazon rain forest scenery, and a surprisingly effective play for more sentimental emotions without ever letting up for very long on the adrenaline supply.

Three Scenes That Made It For Me: (1) The good guys getting away from the German submarine(!) in the port town, with plenty of property destruction and a very exasperated Paul Giamatti along the shore. (2) One of the weird bad guys boasting that he's delicious. (3) How Blunt's character finds out who Johnson's character really is. You gotta see it for yourself.

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