It looks like Disney is trying to recapture the magic it found in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, a film franchise based on a Disney park ride. Now it’s debuting “Jungle Cruise,” an epic adventure story based on the riverboat theme park attraction of the same name.
The new movie stars Emily Blunt as fearless British explorer Lily Houghton, who travels with her brother (Jack Whitehall) into the jungle in pursuit of a mystical Tree of Life, which is said to possess healing powers. Houghton hires a riverboat captain, Frank (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) to help them navigate the treacherous terrain and wildlife that threaten to foil her mission.
After “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” and “The Rundown,” it’s a now-familiar sight to see Johnson playing a sweaty hulking jungle adventurer. However, pairing him with the witty and whip-smart Blunt is a delightful change of pace, indeed.
Check out the first trailer for “Jungle Cruise,” as posted to YouTube by Johnson:
The movie borrows from the real-life theme park attraction in that the film’s boat ride is led by a cheeky guide (Johnson) offering humorous commentary and narration, just like the boat cruise is in the Disney parks.
The movie, of course, weaves a more complex tale than a simple riverboat cruise — one in which much more dangerous and exciting challenges face our cruisers in the form of bad guys, magical curses and nature’s wrath.
The original inspiration for the Disney park ride was a Walt Disney documentary about African lions and the film “The African Queen.” It’s easy to see nods to “The African Queen” in the trailer, with Blunt and Johnson vaguely in the roles made classic by Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in the 1951 film. There are also some serious “Indiana Jones” vibes going on in this trailer.
The movie poster, as released by Disney a few days in advance of the trailer and posted to the official “Jungle Cruise” Instagram page, is also reminiscent of jungle adventure films of yore:
“Jungle Cruise” has been newsworthy for another important reason: The movie features one of the first openly gay characters in a Disney movie with the character of Houghton’s brother, McGregor Houghton, played by Jack Whitehall.
Some members of the LGBTQIA community are criticizing the trailer, however, for not featuring a single line from this character.
Whitehall can be seen alongside Johnson in this Instagram photo of the two draped in a giant anaconda on the set of “Jungle Cruise”:
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On set of our DISNEY’S JUNGLE CRUISE and I made friends with a big ‘ol hungry Anaconda. While my brave co-star and good buddy @jackwhitehall did his best to smile thru his fear of snakes. Good times with the animals of the Amazon. Next, me and Jack will swim with the piranhas.. completely against his will. The adventure of the lifetime. #AllAboard #Disney #JUNGLECRUISE ððð¢ðºð´ (via @therock)
The wild ride through the Amazon opens in theaters July 24, 2020.
Will you be joining these characters for an epic riverboat adventure next summer?