James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
James Clay// Film Critic
Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE is a throwback movie for the modern era, and that’s why by and large the Jaume Collet Serra (HOUSE OF WAX) directed film works so well. It’s rarified air that the House of Mouse decided to create their seldom live-action film that’s not a remake or a sequel. Even though the film is based upon the classic Disney World ride of the same name, the two-hander starring Dwanye Johnson (JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL) and Emily Blunt (MARY POPPINS RETURNS) had room to play with its tone and dynamic. The film falls somewhere in the middle of appeasing older kids with an appetite for adventure and adults whose cynicism has yet to get the best of their film tastes.
Serra opens the film with a peculiar rendition of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” playing in the score and a backstory of Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez), a greedy Spanish conquistador who’s searching for a tree that can provide him and his pillagers’ eternal life. It’s a nice call back to PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, but with less effective CGI work. Sadly the film would work better with practical effects, but that’s not the cinematic we live in today. Sorry, the jaguar is not lifelike, and we aren’t in an immersive atmosphere that fully commits to the bluff that we are careening down a river with two beautiful movie stars.
Warts and all JUNGLE CRUISE is wholly enjoyable from start to finish. Blunt has proven herself a more than capable action hero, and while Johnson is about as flavorful as a saltine in the desert, his dad jokes and puns are legitimately charming. Plus, Serra’s direction is confident and assured to have the action and comedy work for several different demographics in search of adventure. Little added touches like Jesse Plemons’ strange Bavarian accent and whatever Paul Giamatti was going for in the film elevates JUNGLE CRUISE from eye-rolling to good.
BUY/RENT: JUNGLE CRUISE is likely a rental for most audiences who missed the Disney Plus film during its premiere access phase. However, the transfer of the film looks excellent in 4K and the sound is crisp and booming in all the right moments. JUNGLE CRUISE is available now on digital and will hit blu ray and 4K on November 16th.
Jungle Cruise is now available to purchase on Digital and will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD November 16.
Grade: Solid B
PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY
Rated PG, 92 minutes.
Director: Will Gluck
Cast: James Corden, Elizabeth Debicki, Margot Robbie, Aimee Horne, Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, David Oyelowo, Colin Moody, Lennie James, Rupert Degas, Ewen Leslie, Damon Herriman, and Hayley Atwell
Cuddly, cute, and a bit rude, PETER RABBIT was a sleeper hit (much like the grandmaster of kindness Paddington) a few years ago at the box office. The alchemy of name recognition, a bang-up job of fluffy and adorable character design, and two physical comedic performances from actors in Rose Byrne (BRIDESMAIDS) and Domhnall Gleeson (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS) allow the film to warm you up like a cuppa hot tea. The only downfall is the performance by James Corden (PROM) as the saucy lead rabbit, but the other voice cast, including Margot Robbie (BIRDS OF PREY) and Elizabeth Debicki (TENET), make up for that quite well.
The sequel PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY has the denim-shirted hero reflecting on his feelings, actions, and public image by hitting the road to discover who he is inside. The little Goofus runs into an old family friend Barnabus (voice by the excellent Lennie James), who takes the outcasted rabbit back to his roots. The film morphs into a sweet story with the irreverent sweetness of the first movie and yet doesn’t try too terribly hard to go big or go home. Director Will Gluck (EASY A) found a nice medium ground for his follow-up sequel.
BUY/RENT: Well, this all depends on your household. For parents, this is one of the better family films that you’ll be able to watch with your tots. However, this could be the lovely piece of Springtime cinema you pop on every time the flowers bloom for those who are still a kid at heart. Personally, this is the perfect kind of movie to add to your digital locker.
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway is available now on digital platforms and blu ray from major online and instore retailers.