Dwayne Johnson in 'Jungle Cruise'
"Jungle Cruise" comes to theaters this July. (Illustration by Kati Dean, Chapman University)

‘Jungle Cruise’ Will Likely Be a Hit With ‘Jumanji’ Fans

Both films exist in the action-adventure genre, but their common qualities extend far beyond genre and similar settings.

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Dwayne Johnson in 'Jungle Cruise'

Both films exist in the action-adventure genre, but their common qualities extend far beyond genre and similar settings.

If there’s one thing “Jungle Cruise” and the”Jumanji” film franchise have in common besides Dwayne Johnson and the letter J, it’s the inspiration behind their stories. Each film has a deep-rooted connection to the childhood memories of many. Memories of weekends and vacations to Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom or of movie nights and sleepovers spent experiencing the world of the “Jumanji” franchise’s earlier volumes.

What a lot of people don’t know is that the story of “Jumanji” was originally conceived by author and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg in his 1981 children’s picture book of the same name. Similarly, Walt Disney got the idea for the Jungle Cruise ride at his amusement parks from “The African Queen” starring Audrey Hepburn. It is an understatement to say the attraction to adventure allowed these films to be born.

Of course, scenery is a given when it comes to similarities between the jungle adventures faced by the characters in each franchise, but comic relief also plays an important role in both storylines. There’s the getting swallowed by hippos and chased by rhinos, and then there’s the character traits the actors display. If Kevin Hart exploding after eating a piece of cake doesn’t trigger laughter, then Emily Blunt falling out of a library window will.

While the “Jumanji” films are well known for jungle-themed escapades where the game world of Jumanji blends with real life, “Jungle Cruise” will explore the Amazon through maritime transportation. Robin Williams starred in the former’s first film adaptation back in 1995, making it all the more iconic. Following in its wake came the more recent adaptations that explore the video game world of Jumanji rather than that of the board game.

“Jumanji” offers interdimensional quests while “Jungle Cruise” is ripe with real-life feats of voyaging through the Amazon River. What makes the latter even more exhilarating is the dire realities of the adventure undertaken by Dr. Lily Houghton and Frank Wolff, played by Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson respectively. The pair face life-threatening danger head-on as they search for a mythical tree that could change all of medicine.

It is their actual lives on the line as they confront sinister forces of the jungle while trying to escape power-hungry characters that will stop at nothing to destroy them. Unlike “Jumanji,” “Jungle Cruise” does not depict a game world that provides the characters with avatars possessing special abilities. Their real skills are all they have to fend for themselves. That and each other. The task at hand can’t be handled with extra lives or special aids unlocked.

Moreover, the goal awaiting them at the end of their cruise around the jungle isn’t an escape to safety. It’s the end of one journey marking the beginning of another. Getting back to safety with their lives intact without having to worry about the enemy will be victory enough. There is no winning the game but there is overcoming the odds.

The film has had audiences awaiting its arrival since before July 2020 and has gained high expectations for a spectacular and endearing story. “Jungle Cruise” will arrive at cinemas toward the end of July 2021. Action-adventure lovers and “Jumanji” fans could not be more excited.

Writer Profile

Fatima Sani

Rollins College
Psychology with a Creative Writing minor

Fatima Sani is a New York-born Nigerian storyteller attending college in Florida. She enjoys writing poetry and short stories when she’s not intensely analyzing movies and television series. Her favorite place in the world is anywhere family can be found and she believes the beach is prettiest in the early mornings.

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