Jungle Cruise (2021) Review

So I saw Jungle Cruise on Saturday and I have to say that I enjoyed it. It’s a fun ride and a swashbuckling adventure film reminiscent of other Disney ride-based movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and adventure films like The Mummy (1999). For those that don’t know,  Jungle Cruise is a film produced by Walt Disney Studios based on the Disney ride of the same name. The film stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Frank Wolff, Emily Blunt as Lily Houghton, Jack Whitehall as MacGregor Houghton, Jeese Plemons as Prince Joachim, and Edgar Ramírez as Aguirre.

The film is set in 1916 during the First World War and is about Frank, Lily, and MacGregor’s search for the mythical Tears of The Moon in the Amazon Jungle. The film follows their adventure, their developing rocky relationship, and their attempts to get there before Prince Joachim and the cursed group of Aguirre and his conquistadors. The film uses this set-up and formula to eventually start getting more complex and compelling as it goes on. It’s a formulaic film, but it uses the formula to do some interesting things, especially with the main characters. I think that’s one of the things that is a strength to the film, that because the ride doesn’t really have a story to it, it allowed the filmmakers to do whatever they wanted with the story and the characters, they just had to make sure there was a skipper, who pilots a boat through a jungle.

For this film I’m going to avoid spoilers as much as possible as I feel like knowing too much about the story and the characters would affect the film experience, especially as there’s some stuff in the film that I was not expecting and I’m glad I went in with no preconceptions or knowledge about the film. 

Dwayne Johnson as Frank Wolff is the male lead of the film. He’s the river cruise captain and is a bit of an anti-hero throughout the film as he’s a bit of a scam artist and l think that’s an interesting way to take his character. He has an interesting arc throughout the film of learning to trust people, as his current situation was in a way caused by one of the last people he trusted. He’s definitely the Jack Sparrow or Rick O’ Connell of the film, but I don’t know if he’s as fun as those characters. I think it could be that he doesn’t have the swagger of Sparrow, or the super charm of O’Connell. He’s still a fun and charming character, but just not as much as the others. The Rock gives a good performance in this film, he’s good in this role. Then again the role was pretty much written to his strengths as an actor. He still does a good job though. Although it’s kind of funny that this is I think the second time The Rock plays a Brenden Fraser style character (first was Journey 2 The Mysterious Island).

Emily Blunt as Lily Houghton is the female lead of the film as well as the protagonist. She’s the one who gets the film going and drives the plot forward. She’s an interesting character as she kind of serves the intelligent love interest role for the film, but she’s also more action oriented vs Evelyn from The Mummy who wasn’t as action capable in the first film as Lily is. She also drives a lot of the action scenes throughout the film. She’s a fun character with some good moments throughout the film. I think my biggest issue with the film is her romance with Frank, as they primarily get into fights throughout the film, they maybe could have used more relaxed scenes together to really set up their relationship and her choice at the end of the film. Other than that she’s fun. Her performance is pretty good and fits her character well. 

Jack Whitehall as MacGregor is the brother of Lily and is the meek, spoiled, and kind of cowardly character in the film. He doesn’t like adventuring and would rather stay in a hotel instead of traveling the amazon river. He serves as the comedic relief character throughout the film, where most of the comedy comes from. He has a pretty good character arc throughout the film as it’s about him opening up and becoming more proactive and being true to himself, as well as being more confident. Especially with him revealing that he doesn’t go the way society deems proper. He’s most similar to Jonathan from The Mummy as they both serve similar roles and are the comic relief of the film. 

Jesse Plemons as Prince Joachim is the main villain of the film, he is a german royal figure that wants to get the group and find the tree to use it’s power to win the war for Germany. He’s actually a fun villain playing a good rival to the main trio as he kind of takes up the same roles as Lily and MacGregor. He is smart and intelligent, but also proper and doesn’t really get his hands dirty much, but will when he has to. I do enjoy him in the film as he is a part of the film throughout and he brings some interesting dangers, as his knowledge of the myths of the area brings about the other set of villains. I think a lot of the fun with him is how much he believes the myths and all the stuff surrounding it while everyone around him kind of thinks he’s nuts. There’s a sequence in the film where he’s getting information from one of the other villains through way of a bee, while his men don’t believe it. His performance is good and he’s good in the film.

Lastly is Edgar Ramírez as Aguirre, who serves as the secondary villain of the film, as well as the rival for Frank. I’m including the rest of the conquistadors in this part as they are with him and he does the most out of them in the film. They’re the cool CG cursed villains, kind of like Imhotep from The Mummy or the Black Pearl crew from Curse of the Black Pearl. Each on has cool abilities and their past is one of the more interesting things in the film as it also has to do with Frank and leads to one of my favourite sequences in the film. Their performances are good, but they’re mostly CG throughout the film. 

The film is well paced, it didn’t feel too long or too short. The effects were good for the most part, the conquistadors suffer the most from it but it’s still good for the most part. The action is pretty good, mostly standard fair for this kind of movie, same with the fight scenes. Nothing too much to write home about in that area. The production design is all good, everything sells the time period and the location. The stand out is the boat as it looks beat-up and really sells just how old it truly is. It also includes a fun part of the film at the beginning when Frank takes a tour group essentially through the Disney Ride.

I think one of the best parts of the movie though is the music. The score for the most part is good and accentuates the calmer parts as well as the more epic or emotional parts. But my favourite part is that it uses Nothing Else Matters at a couple points in the film. The second time its used is during my favourite sequence, which is a flashback that shows what happened all those years ago. It’s emotional and the music builds from this softer and slower feeling, and leads to this epic bombastic orchastra cover as the big secret is revealed. 

Over-all I had fun with the film. It’s a good movie to watch with the family with a lot of fun action and moments, as well as some surprising twists and turns. It’s a fun ride and a call-back to movies of a by-gone era. 2 Thumbs up ! Watch it in the theatres, or wait till it’s fully out on Disney plus.

The Suicide Squad (2021) Review

So I just got back from seeing The Suicide Squad on Saturday and it was awesome. The movie is a great time and a great watch. There are some amazing action moments in the film and some great creativity. Also there may be some unintentional Spoilers here. I’m not going to say exactly what happens in the movie, but there will be some stuff implied.

The story in the film is pretty good, with some good character twists and some unexpected moments. If I could boil down the film to two “themes” it would probably be family and the dangers of American imperialism. The reason i feel this was is that a major component of the characters is their familial relationships that drive them. As for the second “theme”, a major component of the world and the plot of the film is how far the dark aspects of the American government reach, and how far they are willing to keep these reaches a secret. I’ve heard Gunn say that this film is not unlike a 70s era Vietnam war film with the characters and comedy of James Gunn, and I would say that is a pretty accurate description of the film. 

Speaking of the characters, I did enjoy the characters that the film featured and focused on. Everyone stands out in their own ways and has some great moments. First we have Bloodsport, played by Idris Elba. I enjoyed his character and he does stand out on his own and makes him feel more than just a replacement for Will Smith’s Deadshot. He gave a great performance and has some great character moments throughout the film, especially his relationship with Rat Catcher 2. His suit is awesome and all the weapons that are around it are amazing and I wish we would get them in figure form. I guess my only issue with his character is that it does at points feel similar to Deadshot from the first film. 

Next is Rat Catcher 2 played by Daniela Melchior. She was great in the film and really brought a lot of pathos and emotion to the film. As said earlier she brings a lot with her relationship with Bloodsport as a stand-in for his relationship with his daughter. She serves as the glue for the team as she keeps everyone together and even helps Bloodsport out in some way. Her performance is amazing and her abilities and costume are awesome. It’s interesting how her relationship with her father allows her to help the other characters in the film who may not have had as good a relationship. She can be pretty badass throughout the film as well. Also her friend Rat Sebastian is amazing and adorable and funny. 

Next I’ll talk about Peacemaker, played by John Cena (AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA). Another great character in this film who brings the kind of rivalry with Bloodsport throughout the film. He also kind of plays with that dark side of American imperialism in that he is willing to do anything for liberty, at times it’s played for laughs throughout the film, but we do see just how far he’s willing to go. His performance is pretty good and fits the character well. He’s pretty badass and his costume is amazing in how close it is to the comics. 

Next is Polka-Dot Man, played by David Dastmalchian. He was great in this film and brought some more kind of fun to the film with the way things happen for him, I don’t know how to describe it without spoiling a lot of the laughs throughout the film. His past helps bring out the family “theme” in the film as someone else who lost their family and has a bad past with them. He’s a pretty good adaptation of the character from the comics in terms of his costume and abilities, which are pretty cool in this film. He may seem silly, but his abilities are pretty strong.

Next is returning favourite Harley Quinn played by the incomparable Margot Robbie. She was amazing as always and brings some needed fun to the film. A lot of the fun and visually interesting sequences in the film belong to her. Her performance is great and she’s badass as usual.

After that is another returning character in Colonel Rick Flag played by Joel Kinnaman. This film did something that the first film kind of failed to do in that I care about the character more in this film than I did in the first one. He’s great in this movie and kind of butts heads with Peacemaker in that he’s kind of like Captain America in morals, in that he’s a heroic character that has done everything for his country but is willing to question or go against it when they go against his morals. Again he’s badass and his costume is awesome. His performance was also really good in this film. 

Last but not least we have King Shark, voiced by Sylvester Stallone (continuing Gunn’s trend of getting big name well-known action actors as CG characters) and he’s another great character. He’s a fun character in this film, and brings a lot of fun and heart to the film. He’s definitely the groot to this film. He is able to have some great moments in this film (also where a lot of the gore comes from). 

The other characters in the film are all amazing as well. Viola Davis is back as Amanda Waller and is as perfect as always, everyone else was great as well (also hi again John Ostrander). And Starro is here (it’s in all the trailers so) and I feel like he’s such a good villain or final battle for the suicide squad as it’s something they can realistically overcome. The Thinker was cool as well and Capaldi brings equal parts Doctor Who and Malcom Tucker from The Thick of It. 

Moving on to the technical aspects of the film. This is one of the most visually fun, interesting, and beautiful super hero films out there. The cinematography is incredible. 

The effects in the film are all amazing and work very well. King Shark and STARRO THE CONQUEROR looked amazing in the film. The gore was amazing and violent as well. The action and fight scenes were all amazing, including a big fight and turning point fight which was done in an interesting way. The soundtrack and use of music was well done, I mean it is James Gunn so of course it’s going to be good.

Some faults. This is a James Gunn film, what I mean is that if you aren’t into his style then you probably won’t like this film. This isn’t the James Gunn we got with studio input in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, this is a bit more of a free James Gunn, more like Super or Slither. Especially with the gore, if you don’e like blood and guts in your super hero films than you won’t like this. This leads to one of my only real main issues with the film, that it feels like it doesn’t have the heart that the Guardians films do. A smaller issue is that there are some moments in the film that will startle you and kind of jolt you a little bit, which may affect your experience with the film.

Over-all I did enjoy this film and think it’s worth a watch. It’s fun, full of action, and is very bloody. I give it a two thumbs up! It’s worth watching in the theatre. 

Black Widow (2021) Review

So I just got back from seeing Black Widow on Saturday the 24th of July at the theatres (first time in 2 years) and I thought it was pretty good. It’s a fun movie with some great character moments and some good action scenes. 

I liked how the story takes place after civil war and before Infinity war and acts as a set up for some stuff that could happen in the future. It’s a good time period to set a film as it’s a part of the timeline where we haven’t really seen a lot of at this point in time. The only films that take place during that time on earth are Spider-Man Homecoming and Ant-Man & The Wasp, at least the films with consequences from Civil War anyways. Without getting into spoilers this film really feels like Black Widow: The Winter Soldier, in terms that the main physical villain and the enemies in the film are pretty similar to Hydra. A lot of elements in the film feel pretty similar, along with something that I will try not to spoil. 

This is a film about family, and about Natasha rediscovering her family, as well as establishing Yelena for the future.  I enjoyed the pacing of the film as it didn’t feel long and gave all the characters time to breath and have moments together. 

This film does a lot for Natasha as a character as we get a more in depth look at her history and the kinds of things she was involved in as a part of the red room. We get to see the forces that made her the way she is, and just how much power those forces have. This movie is what Natasha needed as it gave much a better look at what she has done and what she had to go through to get to the point she has and why she feels the way she does about the Avengers and being a part of the Avengers. The movie allows her to be emotional and to feel things that we don’t really get to see in her other appearances. This film also kind of shows why Natasha and Bruce had a bit of a romance in Age of Ultron as we see a lot more of the bad stuff she did and how they could relate to each other in that they don’t judge each other for their pasts and their other personas. Speaking about her past, it’s her actions that create the physical villain of the film, which we’ll talk about a little bit later. 

Scarlett Johansson does a great job in this film at keeping some of the sarcastic and quick wit we’ve seen from her in the past apparances, but now we get to see her flex as Natasha a bit more and see how she’d respond and interact with other characters she has a past with. Her performance is effective for the material she is given. She shines when she is with the family as they are able to bring some fun and serious emotions out of her. 

This film also sets up the character of Yelena Belova, fellow widow and chosen sister of Natasha. She shines the brightest in this film. She’s funny, badass, the one that gets the plot started, and she has some great moments in the film. She has a lot of the major beats in the film as she has the most riding on what happens. We see how much Natasha has an effect on her and how much she truly cares for her. Her personality shines throughout the film and really makes me excited to see her in the future. Florence Pugh also does a great job in this film and plays her perfectly. She’s funny, badass, and is very effective at what the film requires of her. 

Next is Melina who is fine I guess. We don’t get much of her in the film and she works in the motherly role. She’s there as the tech expert in the film which works I guess. Again she doesn’t do too much in the film and her intelligent and kind of introverted character fits the film but isn’t too memorable. Rachel Weiz does a great job with what she’s given and has some fun scenes. 

After that is one of my favourite characters of the film, Alexei. He’s funny, boastful, badass, and really can carry the scenes he’s in.  He acts as the fatherly role in the family, and even brings in some pathos in how he sometimes shows that he kind of hated it deep down inside. He’s a man of action, he wants to be out there exploring and fighting, maybe even against Captain America. He loves his family but his pride can make him view them as a disappointment, that he doesn’t want to be with them. He’s a bit of a comic relief character in the film, in that a lot of the comedy comes from him and his antics, but he’s not an annoying character to me. David Harbour does another amazing job as Alexei and plays him perfectly. 

Finally there’s the villain, Dreykov played by Ray Winstone. He’s ok I guess. He’s kinda boring as he’s mostly just some guy. Sure, he’s the head of this big secret organization with these big plans and a crazy amount of control, yet he’s just some dude at the end of the day. He doesn’t really bring anything interesting to the film. He can be intimidating but because we don’t really get a lot from him until the last act of the film, and what we do get isn’t great. I would be a bit more forgiving if they did more from him or if he had more personality. The performance is fine and works for what the character is given. He definitely feels like a commentary on a certain kind of man who loves having control over people, who is full of pride, and who in the end is some flabby guy. They only kind of interesting thing I found about him is just how deep he loves control with some stuff that I won’t spoil. 

With Dreykov comes Taskmaster. I won’t get much into the character as they don’t do much, it would be a spoiler for a major point for Natasha’s character, and there isn’t really much there in the end. I mean what we do get is kinda cool, but that mostly has to do with the action and suit design. Although I do wonder if the suit also has some enhancements as well as the user having the Super Soldier Serum as they are strong. The only spoilers thing I’ll say is that there is a reason I’ve been comparing the film to Winter Soldier a lot throughout this review. 

The comedy really worked throughout the film for me and I thought it was handled well. It didn’t feel like a comedy but there was still a bunch of comedy in the film. There were some jokes that felt a little weird that, but over-all was pretty good. The comedy was mostly character focused and felt pretty natural coming from these characters.

The film has some good action. I didn’t feel that it lacked anywhere and the fight scenes were handled pretty well. Taskmaster has some good fights and there are some good chase scenes. It was cool seeing more Widow style fights, especially with all the different Widows in the film. 

The film looks pretty good for the most part. The cinematography was good and the editing was well done and things didn’t feel too much. I think the movie lacked technically in the VFX department though. There were some scenes that could have really used either more time, or have been thought out more. It’s serviceable for the most part, but there can be a few funny looking moments if you notice them. The costumes are pretty good, with Taskmaster being a stand-out. 

Over-all I thought this was a good movie over-all. It has it’s issues and doesn’t have a lot of huge moments in it like some other marvel movies. It’s enjoyable so I’d recommend it.

I’ll give it One Thumb Up, see it in the theatres if you want, or wait until it’s on Disney Plus.