This was great – an ’80s-style good-humoured, action-packed adventure-with-a-bit-of-fantasy film, reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing the Stone but with CGI jaguars and scorpions. In a nod to the 2020s, however, most of the rope-swinging, fighting and shooting was carried out by a female botanist who’d been denied admission to the Royal Society by a load of boring old men, and who also went around liberating captive animals, whilst most of the swooning involved her stock character upper class twit of a brother. None of it was meant to be taken too seriously though … er, says the person who got upset when they were talking about conquistadors being in Peru 400 years before the Great War. Lest anyone else get traumatised at the prospect of a film involving people being cursed to live as monsters for 360 years and magical trees providing a cure for all ills not being historically accurate, it should be pointed out that it was later explained that the expedition in question actually took place in the 1550s, so that was all OK.
Our heroine Lily was on the hunt for the legendary Tears of the Moon, a tree with petals that could cure all ills and lift curses – not for self-aggrandisement, but so that she could a) help Britain win the war (this being 1916) and b) work for the general good of mankind, et al. The legend was that some Spanish conquistadors had tried to find the tree, and had stolen an arrowhead which was the key to its location, but had been cursed by a local tribe so that they could never leave the Amazonian jungle. The arrowhead had somehow made its way to London and come into the possession of the Royal Society – quite how it had managed that, if the people who stole it couldn’t leave the Amazon, was never explained, but never mind.
Prince Joachim, the dastardly youngest son of the Kaiser, was also after the Tears of the Moon. After Lily outwitted him and took the arrowhead, he followed her to the Amazon in a submarine, where he was eventually squished by a falling pillar. It should be noted that none of this was historically accurate 😉 – although the Kaiser’s youngest son was indeed called Prince Joachim.
Lily was accompanied by her twit of a brother, MacGregor, who took along his golf clubs, tennis rackets, expensive booze, numerous changes of clothes, et al – as I said, stock upper class twit character, but he did have his moments of heroism. It was later explained that he was accompanying Lily because the rest of the family kept trying to force him into marriage with a suitable young lady, and she was the only one who accepted that he wasn’t interested in young ladies. Sadly, instead of copping off with a handsome Peruvian or Brazilian sailor, he ended up back in London.
Lily and MacGregor were taken up the Amazon by Frank, a wisecracking, tough guy Brazilian boatman who turned out to be Spanish, spoke perfect English with a North American accent, and was being pursed by some Italian mafiosi. It wasn’t very clear why the Italian mafiosi were in Brazil. Nor indeed why Lily and MacGregor hadn’t started off in Peru. But never mind. Frank spent his time taking rich, gullible American tourists for stage-managed adventures up the Amazon, but he was also after the Tears of the Moon, for reasons which became clear later.
So off we went. The film was “inspired” by the Jungle Cruise rides at Disneyworld and Disneyland, those wonderful places where we used to go in the days when you could actually travel abroad without it being nearly as much hassle as sailing through dangerous Amazonian rapids and dodging snakes, and so we encountered piranhas, snakes, scorpions, et al. And we also encountered a tribe of cannibals – who turned out to be play-acting because Frank had paid them to. I’m so pleased that films like this are still being made, and that the film industry hasn’t been entirely browbeaten by the woke brigade, because I can imagine some people seeing this and screeching about racism and stereotypes and cultural appropriation and “evil” colonialism and so on and so forth, when it wasn’t like that. The joke was on the gullible American tourists who fell for all Frank’s stage-managed scenes, and the Amazonian tribespeople, with a female leader, were working with Frank and also assisted Lily in overcoming the various baddies.
Anyway, there were numerous dramatic scenes involving rocks, water, snakes, trees, baddies looking like they’d won but then getting their come-uppance – you know the sort of thing. It was filmed in Hawaii, apparently, and the scenery looked great even if it wasn’t really South America and a lot of it was probably computer-generated! And, of course, the goodies triumphed in the end.
This was my first visit to the cinema in 17 months. One moan! It costs £4.99 for a standard ticket at Vue. However, if you book online, you get charged a 79p “booking fee” (why??), so, unless I’m going to see something likely to be very busy, I just pay at the till. However, today I was told that it now cost £5.99 to pay at the till, and was only £4.99 if you booked online. Er, no. If you book online it costs £4.99 plus 79p, i.e. £5.78. So films now do not cost £4.99. I understand them putting up prices to try to recoup some of the losses suffered over the past 17 months, but I object to them not being honest about it! Otherwise, everything was fine. Some people came in wearing masks, but no-one kept them on – but it was early on Sunday morning, so it wasn’t that busy. I didn’t feel at all uneasy about being there. And roll on the long-awaited release of the new James Bond film! As for Jungle Cruise, if the August weather carries on being like this and you’re looking for somewhere to go where you can stay dry, give it a go!