starring Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramirez, Paul Giamatti
screenplay by Michael Green and Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
by Walter Chaw For a film based on a theme-park attraction without a point of view or anything to say, Jungle Cruise is as good as it could possibly be, i.e.: fine. It reaps whatever benefits one could from the star power of Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt without giving them something to do, and it seems to belong to the Aguirre, The Wrath of God cinematic universe, which is, you know, unexpected. There's a moment somewhere in the middle of it where Blunt's character, Lily, asks Johnson's Frank a personal question and then listens. She's an actor of tremendous empathy and clarity, and although, in these moments after finishing the movie, I can't for the life of me remember what they were talking about, I do recall thinking how nice it would be if Blunt got more roles in which she might play a human being. For now, she's a plucky scientist two years into WWI who is denied admission into stuffy scientific societies because she's not only a woman but a woman who wears pants. What Lily wants to do most is find a mythical tree blossom in the Amazon that bestows eternal life, making Jungle Cruise a part of The Fountain's cinematic universe, too, which is likewise unexpected. The person she hires to help her is Frank, of course, and the bad guy who wants the blossom but for nefarious reasons is German Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons). Oh, the other bad guy who wants the blossom is Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez), a centuries-old conquistador doomed to jungle purgatory. It doesn't matter.