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Rated 3 stars
by 106 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Thrills, Chills and Fun
by James Colt Harrison

Hold onto your hats when seeing the new Disney film ride in Jungle Cruise! It is, by far, the most entertaining, funny, thrilling show on the screen this year. It’s an exciting adventure from the beginning scenes to the bang-up finale.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra was blessed to have his two co-stars redefine the word “chemistry” with the rapport between Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. They are the 21st Century’s re-born Laurel and Hardy comedy team. Two more likeable actors you will not find in films today who can compare with the fireworks these two have struck like a match to a flint. They are sexy, but with a sense of humor. That only makes them even more attractive. They both are physical knockouts in their own masculine and feminine ways.

Everybody knows Johnson (aka “The Rock”) has the body of a granite-molded moose. Strong, sculptured, massive. But inside there is a gentle and humorous soul. Blunt surprises us as “Pants,” because she dons trousers throughout and looks more sexy than if she were in a bikini. Intelligence and humor is a great combination.

The enormous screen can hardly contain all the thrills that are in store for kids and adults alike. But this is a film made for the big vistas of the Amazon and jungle foliage that awaits the audience. So if possible, please see it on the big screen.

The film crew traveled to Hawaii to capture the essence of the Amazon jungle, which is sufficiently lush enough to substitute for the treacherous Amazon river and forests. Plus, it’s green and tropical and looks better than a studio back lot with fake trees. Cinematographer Flavio Martinez Fabiano cranked up the color palette on his lenses and captured some beautiful nature for the exteriors. Some scenes were obviously shot on a sound stage as they definitely look fake, but that’s Hollywood.

Leading the film are Johnson (as skipper Frank) and Blunt. He’s the captain of the scroungiest looking rattle trap of a scow that can still float. Ms. Blunt plays Dr. Lilly Houghton of London, a brainy botanist looking for a sacred tree that may hold the power to change all medicine with its healing petals. Along for the ride is her formal and proper brother MacGregor, played by British actor Jack Whitehall. There is a surprisingly gentle and understanding discussion between fey MacGregor and ultra-masculine Frank about how Lily was the only one who stood beside him as kids when he discovered he was gay.

Of course, there are villains in the story. Paul Giamatti plays Nilo, the harbormaster who controls all the boats on the river, including Frank’s boat engine! Giamatti huffs and puffs and looks ridiculous. He’s a buffoon with no power except money.

Popping up to steal every scene is Jesse Plemons, an actor who can portray any type of character. He is Prince Joachim, a deranged German who plies a submarine along the Amazon during his own quest to find the Tree of Life with the curative petals. He seems determined to do in Frank and Lily while chewing the scenery in a comical way to get his way.

Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated Venezuelan star Edgar Ramirez creeps in as a 300 year-old mercenary all crusty and cobwebby-covered.  This character is also determined to get his share of the sacred tree everybody is looking for to save humanity. Don’t ask---it’s all part of the jungle voodoo!

There is one adventure after another, but the topper involves a ride down the rapids in Frank’s creaky old wooden boat. The special effects are thrilling and exciting. If you don’t hold onto your seat during these jaw-dropping scenes, then you are not alive. Blunt turned positively more green than the river water.

Jungle Cruise is a heck of an entertaining movie; it’s a breath of fresh air that makes you forget all about the horrors of the past year. It’s funny,  chilling, adventurous and best of all romantic in a cuddly way.

(Released by Walt Disney Pictures and rated “PG-13” for sequences of adventure violence.)  

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