Dr. Lily Houghton enlists the aid of wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff to take her down the Amazon in his ramshackle boat. Together, they search for an ancient tree that holds the power to heal -- a discovery that will change the future of medicine.
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Based on: Jungle Cruise; by Disney Parks
Budget: $200 million
Story by: John Norville; Josh Goldstein; Glenn Ficarra; John Requa
Jungle Cruise is a 2021 American fantasy adventure film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra from screenplay written by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, and Michael Green, based on Walt Disney's theme park attraction of the same name. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, the film stars Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti, and follows the captain of a small riverboat who takes a group of travelers through a jungle in search of the Tree of Life.
Plans for a feature film based on the Jungle Cruise ride began in 2004 following the success of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl the year prior. The project laid dormant until 2011, when Tom Hanks or Tim Allen were set to star, though that version fell through and Johnson was cast in August 2015 and Blunt the following January. The rest of the cast joined in spring 2018, with filming taking place in Hawaii and Atlanta, Georgia from May through September that year.
Following a year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jungle Cruise was released in the United States on July 30, 2021, simultaneously in theaters and digitally through Disney+ with Premier Access. The film has grossed over $71 million worldwide, and also made $30 million from Disney+ Premier Access in its opening weekend. The film received mixed reviews from critics, who praised Johnson and Blunt's chemistry and the entertainment values, but criticized the screenplay and the abundance of CGI.
In the 16th century, Don Aguirre leads Spanish conquistadors to South America to search for the Tears of the Moon, a mythical tree whose petals can cure any illness, heal all injuries, and lift every curse. After many conquistadors die, a local tribe heals the survivors with the tree petals. When the tribal chief refuses to reveal the tree's location, Aguirre stabs him, and his men destroy the village. The dying chief curses the conquistadors, making them immortal and unable to leave sight of the Amazon River. Otherwise, the jungle will capture them.
In 1916 London, Dr. Lily Houghton's Tears of the Moon research is presented by her brother, MacGregor, to the Royal Society, claiming that the tree's petals could revolutionize medicine and aid the British war effort. The Houghtons request access a recently acquired arrowhead artifact that Lily believes is key to locating the tree. The association denies the request, believing the tree is a myth and female scientists are inferior. Lily steals the arrowhead and a map, narrowly avoiding Prince Joachim, a German aristocrat who also seeks the tree to aid Germany in the war.
Lily and McGregor travel to Brazil where they meet Frank Wolff, a river guide who leads cut-rate jungle cruises embellished with faked dangers and corny puns. Lily wants to hire Frank to guide her search for the tree, but he declines, saying it is too dangerous and the tree is a myth. He reconsiders after seeing that Lily possesses the arrowhead. After stealing back his repossessed boat engine, Frank and the Houghtons depart, but are attacked by Joachim in a German submarine. The group escapes unharmed and journey downriver, accompanied by Frank's pet jaguar, Proxima.
Inside Frank's cabin, Lily notices photos and sketches of modern inventions, as well as drawings and research on the Tears of the Moon. She accuses Frank of seeking the tree, but he claims he gave up long ago. A "cannibal" tribe capture the group, but this is just another of Frank's pre-arranged fake dangers. The tribal leader translates the arrowhead's symbols, revealing the tree location and that it only blooms under a blood moon.
Meanwhile, Joachim locates the cursed conquistadors who are petrified inside a cave. He diverts river water to free them and offers to lift their curse if they retrieve the arrowhead. The conquistadors agree and attack the tribe. Frank is fatally stabbed as Lily takes the arrowhead and runs away from the river to where the Spaniards cannot cross the curse's boundary.
To the Houghtons' shock, a fully revived Frank is found the next morning. He reveals he is Francisco, one of the cursed conquistadors on a noble quest to save Aguirre's gravely ill daughter. When the Spaniards attacked the natives, Frank defended the village. After years of fighting, Frank trapped Aguirre and his men in the cave where they turned to stone. He then spent centuries searching for the tree to lift his own curse but gave up.
Lily and Frank make the final journey to the tree. At a waterfall, they unlock an immense, submerged stone structure. Meanwhile, Joachim captures MacGregor and forces him to reveal Lily's location. Frank, Lily, the Germans, and the Spaniards all converge on the tree. They learn the arrowhead is a heart-shaped locket containing a gemstone. After properly placing the gem and locket into the trunk, the tree blooms under the blood moon. A fight ensues as the moon passes overhead, during which Lily recovers one petal. MacGregor kills Joachim, and Frank crashes his boat to block the river, turning himself and the cursed Spaniards into stone. Lily uses the petal to break Frank's curse. The moon casts one last beam and a single petal blooms, allowing Lily's research to proceed.
Upon their return to England, the society offers Lily full membership, which MacGregor rejects on her behalf. Lily shows Frank all of London and gives him a driving lesson in her automobile.
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