REVIEW: Jungle Cruise (2021)

Emily Blunt as Lily Houghton, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Frank, and Jack Whitehalll as MacGregor Houghton in Disney’s JUNGLE Cruise — Available now in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access — Photo: Disney / Disney+.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra — Screenplay by Michael Green, Glenn Ficarra, and John Requa.

There are many films that have been turned into theme park attractions as a direct result of their popularity. However, the reverse doesn’t happen successfully as frequently. We rarely see great films that are instead based on popular attractions. Disney did find that kind of success, when Gore Verbinski turned the Pirates of the Caribbean-attraction into a beloved film franchise. It wasn’t Disney first or last attempt at making a successful film out of one of their many theme park attractions, but they have all mostly failed to garner the same success that Verbinski’s beloved films did.

Some of the not-so-successful attempts include the Eddie Murphy-led The Haunted Mansion and Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland. Jaume Collet-Serra’s Jungle Cruise is based on the Disney attraction of the same name, and, even though it is not a true home run for Disney, I think it’s definitely the best of its kind since Verbinski’s swashbuckling action-adventure trilogy set sail.

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Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Summer ’21: ‘Mare of Easttown,’ ‘Cruella,’ and More

Emma Stone as ‘Cruella’ in Disney’s live-action ‘CRUELLA’ — Photo: Disney / Disney+.

In this edition of my monthly movie and television catch-up article series titled ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews,’ I reveal my mixed thoughts on the Emma Stone-vehicle Cruella, and then I recommend three television shows, one of which I’ve been meaning to review for several months. This edition of Additional Bite-Sized Reviews is jam-packed!

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REVIEW: Black Widow (2021)

Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, David Harbour as Alexei, and Florence Pugh as Yelena in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW — Photo by Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios.

Directed by Cate Shortland — Screenplay by Eric Pearson — Story by Jac Schaeffer & Ned Benson.

After numerous delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cate Shortland’s Black Widow is finally here. Out now in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the first film in its so-called Phase Four — which also already includes Disney+ series WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki — but it is also the first theatrically released Marvel Studios product in two years (since 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home).

My fellow Marvelites and so-called True Believers can now rejoice as the wait is finally over. However, while I’d say the film is quite good and, at least to some extent, worth the wait, I also have to say that it is clear as day that this film is ‘out of time’ in more ways than one, which makes the film feel quite strange even though it is ‘just’ a long-awaited solo film with a beloved character.

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REVIEW: Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran) and her nemesis, Namaari (voiced by Gemma Chan), face off amid the snowy mountains of Spine. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Raya and the Last Dragon” in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on March 5, 2021. — Photo: Disney.

Directed by Don Hall (Big Hero 6) & Carlos López Estrada (Blindspotting) — Screenplay by Qui Nguyen & Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians).

Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada’s Raya and the Last Dragon is an action-adventure film set in the fantasy land of Kumandra, which is inspired by Southeast Asian cultures, that has been divided into five tribes — Fang, Heart, Talon, Spine, and Tail — named after their placement on a giant river that flows through all of Kumandra. These tribes don’t see eye to eye, and they all covet a magical orb that was once created by dragons that have since been turned to stone by evil spirits known as the Druun. The Druun have disappeared because of the creation of the powerful orb, which is now protected by the Heart tribe, led by Chief Benja (voiced by Daniel Dae Kim) who still believes that the tribes can reunite and bring new life to the once glorious land of Kumandra. Continue reading “REVIEW: Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)”