D23 jungle cruise

Are you ready to watch Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt go on a quest for a mystical healing tree? That’s the ultra-simplified plot of Jungle Cruise, Disney’s upcoming movie adaptation of the classic Disneyland theme park ride, which features skippers making purposefully terrible jokes and puns. In the film, Johnson plays a captain tasked with delivering a woman (Blunt) and her brother (Jack Whitehall) to a tree with magic healing powers, but we learned a bit more about the film during its presentation at today’s D23 Expo. Buckle up, keep your arms and legs inside the boat, and read on to find out the latest about this film.

Disney film chief Sean Bailey was joined by stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt to introduce two competing trailers for Jungle Cruise. But this is a movie, like Pirates Caribbean before it, that is inspired by one of the most iconic Disney theme park rides, so naturally they had to do it with style. Johnson came speeding in on a Jungle Cruise-inspired boat fit for land, while Blunt drove onstage in a period-appropriate car, to present the two vastly different sizzle reels. Both rides were fitting for the characters they play: Johnson as a grizzled river boat captain, and Blunt as a scientist who hires him for a dangerous expedition.

“The movie will be big and epic,” boomed Johnson before presenting his personal sizzle reel. “It has romance, comedy, big action, and most importantly, it has me.”

Jungle Cruise Footage Reaction

The trailer presented by Johnson opens on the winding Amazon river as Johnson’s character, Frank, ominously narrates, “Everything you see wants to kill you, and can.” Frank is giving a jungle cruise tour that is just like the one from the Disney parks, complete with the “backside of water” bit. Cut to a mysterious woman (Blunt) offering him a hefty sum for an adventure which they negotiate, set to clips of high-octane action from the film, including a shot in which Frank saves Blunt’s scientist Lily Houghton by swinging with her on a rope off the boat. The sizzle reel ends with the appearance of a huge snake-like creature. “It’s impossible,” an awestruck Frank says.

Following the trailer, Johnson compared the film to the 1984 romantic comedy-adventure Romancing the Stone, “a movie about a man kicking ass and saving the girl.” But he’s quickly interrupted by Blunt, who presents “the real version of the trailer.”

Blunt’s version opens with Lily narrating, “Legend has it, there is a tree that possesses healing powers.” Lily is more capable in this version of the trailer, having her own swashbuckling fight in a library to retrieve an arrowhead that is key to finding this mystical tree. Lily shows up to recruit Frank, who is reluctant at first, saying “Legend brings curses too.” Frank seems to be on the nose, as the footage shows the jungle coming to life. We see a different version of the swinging off the boat clip, but this time Frank is apparently not the flawless hero he presents himself as — unable to catch himself on the ledge, he stumbles and Lily mocks him.

But despite the two differing trailers (neither of which are the actual trailer, according to Bailey), both present a vision of Jungle Cruise which matches Pirates of the Caribbean in tone and feel, with some 1999 The Mummy and Tarzan and Jane thrown in for good measure. Johnson and Blunt display some sparkling chemistry, which they showed off onscreen and onstage. Despite the creative licenses they take with the film, Johnson wanted to assure fans of the original Jungle Cruise experience that the film will “honor the legacy” of the classic ride.

From what we’ve seen so far with the costumes and the general vibe of behind-the-scenes videos, it seems as if Johnson and Blunt are going for a sort of Bogart/Hepburn African Queen vibe here. Director Jaume Collet-Serra is on board (pun intended), making his first family-friendly studio film. He’s best known for helming Liam Neeson vehicles like Non-Stop and The Commuter, but also horror movies like Orphan, House of Wax, and the Blake Lively vs. a killer shark thriller The Shallows, so it should be interesting to see how he does with something that has such a drastically different tone.

Jungle Cruise also stars Paul Giamatti, Edgar Ramirez, and Jesse PlemonsMichael Green (Logan, Blade Runner 2049) wrote the screenplay, and the film arrives in theaters on July 24, 2020.

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