After being given the ‘captain’s hat’ in 1983 on this attraction at Florida’s Walt Disney World at the tender age of six – it was always going to be interesting to see what movie re-imagining prevailed with such a personal attachment.
And of course – just like with the similarly water-inspired Pirates of the Caribbean boat jaunt – the famous ride is just a backdrop for the film’s theme (eagle-eyed fans will see several nods in the opening scenes) which is then expanded in true Disney style into something much more exuberant.
And it does a pretty good job. Mainly due to the amiable charms of the leading trio of Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt and British comedian-turned-actor Jack Whitehall – who arguably puts in his best movie turn yet.
It’s a fairly tried-and-tested formula. After stealing an arrowhead that should help locate the whereabouts of a mythical healing-powers-possessing tree deep in the Amazon, Blunt’s Dr Lily Houghton – with her young brother assistant MacGregor (Whitehall) by her side – acquires the services of charmingly roguish down-on-his-luck riverboat captain Frank Wolff to help her locate her lifelong obsession. Along with Frank’s impressively computer-generated pet jaguar Proxima in tow.
But alas, unhinged German royal Prince Joachim (Game Night’s Jesse Plemons) is also on the trail, and there’s a little matter of the undead clan (in a very Pirates of the Caribbean-esque fashion) of Spanish conquistadors – led by Edgar Ramirez’s (The Bourne Ultimatum) Aguirre – standing in their way, in this World War One-era set adventure.
But although it’s twenty minutes too long, and is way too dark in places – not as in dark as in scary, as in you struggle to work out what the heck is going on in the final skirmishes – it’s still a solid slice of family entertainment complete with all the usual competent Disney production values.
It doesn’t reinvent the wheel – and sticks very closely to stereotypical tropes – but with colourful characters and a plentiful supply of humorous moments, this just about does the iconic ride justice.
It’s just a shame the pacing cruised along wayyyyy too slowly at times – and didn’t swop in a speed boat once in a while.
ESP Rating: 3/5
Showcase Cinema De Lux Peterborough, Out Now
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, Edgar Ramirez, Veronica Falcon & Paul Giamatti
Running Time: 2 Hrs 7 Mins
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Go to www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for all the latest film information & showtimes at Peterborough’s Showcase Cinema De Lux.