Disney's Jungle Cruise movie certainly has a lot in common with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. They're both films based on rides at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The rides themselves are also quite similar, as they're both water-based attractions sending guests through different scenes by boat. Jungle Cruise pre-dated Pirates of the Caribbean in the theme parks by about a decade, but now on the big screen, Jungle Cruise is following Pirates, and will attempt to replicate that franchise success. So far, it looks like it just might work.
Dwayne Johnson has spoken before about how Pirates of the Caribbean inspired Jungle Cruise in many different ways, and after seeing the newest trailer, it continues to be clear that Jungle Cruise is hoping to take over the spot in the Disney franchise arsenal that has been left vacant now that the Pirates franchise is in a bit of limbo. Not every connection I see between the two franchises has me completely excited, but there are a lot.
The "Hero" Isn't Actually The Main Character
It's not exactly a stretch to say that the popularity of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise owes a lot to the character of Captain Jack Sparrow. He was exciting, charismatic and funny, and the role was so special that it earned Johnny Depp an Oscar nomination. Captain Jack was almost certainly most people's favorite character, but he wasn't actually the main character. The movie was about William Turner and Elizabeth Swann. They are the point of view characters for the entire first trilogy. Captain Jack is great, but those movies aren't about him.
And the same appears to be largely true of Jungle Cruise. Dwayne Johnson's Skipper is clearly the hero of the piece. He's the one that can throw a punch, swing on a rope and drive his boat at high speed trying to avoid a submarine. He's the action star in the same way that Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow was, but it doesn't look like Johnson's character is actually who the movie is about. The trailers are all from the perspective of Emily Blunt's character, the scientist looking for the mystical healing tree in the Amazon. She is the real main character. Dwayne Johnson will support her, but in a way that will likely make a lot of people love him. This is a good move, as the one time that Jack Sparrow truly became the point of view character in the Pirates franchise, it was the low point of the series.
There's A Curse And Deformed Humans
While some of the similarities between Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise are in the broad strokes, some seem oddly specific. The new trailer tells us about the magic tree with healing powers that our heroes are apparently searching for. It also tells us that maybe there's a curse associated with it, and we get a look at some monstrous-looking humans, the implication being that these are the cursed people who have come before.
The [first Pirates of the Caribbean movie](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PiratesoftheCaribbean(filmseries) gave us bad guys suffering from a curse that turned them into immortal skeleton creatures. So now both movies have curses. However, the monsters in _Jungle Cruise actually bear a stronger resemblance to the bad guys in the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, Dead Men Tell No Tales. They look like they're sort of incomplete. Pieces of them are missing, like they've rotted away and fallen off.
An Exciting Score
The Pirates of the Caribbean score is just awesome. That main Pirates theme that plays during all the key action sequences is an absolutely soaring piece of music that gets my blood pumping every time I hear it. It's the one thing that I looked forward to even when I had a bit less confidence that the sequels to The Curse of the Black Pearl were going to be quite as good as the original. Those movies knew just how good that piece of music was, since it got used a lot.
The new trailer for Jungle Cruise uses the anachronistic "Run Through the Jungle" for most of its run time. However, near the end of the trailer, the music shifts to an instrumental piece of music which sounds like just the sort of heroic action music a movie like this needs. The first trailer also included some great music that, if it is part of the movie, is going to fit perfectly. It's possible this music isn't part of the actual film; that happens a lot with trailers, but even if this music is just a hint of the kinds of things we can expect, it should be great. James Newton Howard is composing the music, so we can expect a killer score.
The Action And Humor Blend Well Together
One of the things that made Pirates of the Caribbean work so well was nearly flawless blend of action and humor. The movies were never afraid to be funny, but that never took away from the more serious action or kept you from taking the characters seriously. This was potentially a gamble as the theme park attraction is mostly played straight.
Jungle Cruise has the opposite problem. The attraction has been designed to be funny since the early 1960s. The action is the thing that is technically out of place. But the action in the trailers looks great, and it's not at the expense of the humor. We expect to hear a lot of the classic jokes you'll hear on the theme park ride in the movie. If the action and humor blend as well in the whole movie as they do in the trailer, we're in for something fun.
I've been looking forward to a Jungle Cruise movie starring Dwayne Johnson ever since it was announced. After being moved around the release calendar a lot, even before last year's shutdown, it looks like the movie will finally be here in just about two months. It clearly wants to be the next Pirates of the Caribbean, and I certainly hope that it is, in all the best ways.