Like Vogon poetry, the plot of Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” is mostly incomprehensible and tries to force you to submit. Manically staged by Jaume Collet-Serra, this latest derivative of a theme park ride is filmed for the bubbling fun of past romantic adventures like “Raiders of the Lost Treasure” (1981). That it misses has less to do with the heroic use of his female lead than with the glittering craftsmanship of the entire company.
Emily Blunt plays Lily, a cheeky British botanist who is tired of being disrespected by the chauvinistic science community in London. The Great War is in full swing, but Lily is obsessed with reaching the Amazon jungle in search of a flower that is supposed to cure all diseases. A rogue River boat Captain Frank (Dwayne Johnson) is hired, and soon Lily and her picky brother (Jack Whitehall) – their discomfort with anything Amazonian running gag – find themselves in a multitude of digital dangers upriver.
As snakes, and cannibals Maggots supernatural beings rattle around the frame, “Jungle Cruise” shows an obviously false exoticism that feels as flat as the forced tension between the two main characters. The pace is hectic, the dialogue block (“The natives speak of this place with fear”), the general hustle and bustle a desperate dance for our attention. Jesse Plemons briefly distracts as a nefarious German prince and Edgar Ramírez emerges as a rotting Spanish conquistador named Aguirre. Werner Herzog must be enthusiastic.
Beaten by a relentless score and aided by the digital artists of a small town, Jungle Cruise is less directed than whipped to a stiff climax before collapsing into a damp mess.
“Everything you see wants to kill you,” Frank tells his passengers. Actually, I think it just wants to take your money.
Rated PG-13 for chaste kissing and bloodless fights. Running time 2 hours 7 minutes. In theaters and on Disney +.