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Jungle Cruise and Other Adventures

by Sarah Soliman

Disney’s newest thrill ride come to life is Jungle Cruise, an action-adventure film that sees Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson take a ride into the heart of the Amazon in search of a tree whose healing properties could revolutionize medicine. To find the tree they must face the dangers of the jungle and come up against a rival expedition. Before riding the river of Jungle Cruise when it opens at the theater on July 30, here are some other action-adventure films to enjoy.  

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) 
An inexperienced young adventurer becomes the key to unraveling an ancient mystery when he joins up with a group of daredevil explorers to find the legendary lost empire of Atlantis. Rated PG.  

John Carter (2012)  
When Civil War veteran John Carter mysteriously awakes on the surface of Mars he becomes embroiled in an epic conflict among the red planet’s inhabitants. The war-weary Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that everyone’s fate is in his hands. Rated PG-13. 

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)  
Four high school students discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game’s jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji—you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives or be stuck in the game forever. Rated PG-13.  

The Mummy (1999)  
In this rousing, suspenseful epic, an expedition of treasure-seeking explorers stumble upon an ancient tomb, unwittingly setting loose a 3,000-year-old horror. Rated PG-13. 

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) 
Captain Jack Sparrow is either the worst or the best pirate you’ve ever seen. Sparrow teams up with blacksmith Will Turner to save his love, the fetching Elizabeth Swann, from Jack’s former pirate allies—who happy to be undead. Rated PG-13. 

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)  
Renowned archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before Adolf Hitler’s Nazis can obtain its awesome powers, in a quest that takes Indy and ex-flame Marion from Nepal to Cairo. Rated PG. 

Treasure Planet (2002)  
The legendary “loot of a thousand worlds” inspires an intergalactic treasure hunt when 15-year-old Jim Hawkins stumbles upon a map to the greatest pirate trove in this thrilling sci-fi reimagining of one of the greatest adventure stories ever told: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Rated PG. 

On top of being a fun visual, these vintage style posters of Jungle Cruise took my mind on a bit of a film journey. 

I was reminded of Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Yes, the 1972 film directed by Werner Herzog that has been named by Sight and Sound as one of the best 100 films ever made. Shortly after making this observation, This led me to notice that the character played by Edgar Ramirez in Jungle Cruise is named Aguirre. The Jungle Cruise trailer refers to a great evil that could be unleashed if the expedition goes awry, and the trailer cuts to Ramirez in conquistador garb; Aguirre, the Wrath of God is of course about a man who perpetuates great evil on his own Amazonian expedition. Add to this the fact that the rival crew searching for the tree in Jungle Cruise are, like Herzog, German, and I’m choosing to believe Jungle Cruise is paying homage to cinema history. Here are some films, Herzog’s included, that center on the dreams and consequences of exploring the Amazon.  

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)  
Ruthless Spanish conquistador Don Lope de Aguirre vies for power while part of an expedition in Peru to find El Dorado, the mythical seven cities of gold. NR.  

Burden of Dreams (1982)  
A behind the scenes look at the troubled production of Werner Herzog’s epic Fitzcarraldo. After having to reshoot much of the film due to recasting, the crew must then haul an old-fashioned steamboat over a mountain using manpower alone. With a resolve bordering on insanity, Herzog vows to see the film completed—even if it leads to his undoing. NR. 

Embrace of the Serpent (2015)  
The story of the relationship between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and last survivor of his people, and two scientists who work together over the course of forty years to search the Amazon for a sacred healing plant. Embrace of the Serpent is the first Colombian film nominated for an Academy Award. NR. 

Fitzcarraldo (1982)  
European Brian Fitzgerald, known as Fitzcarraldo, becomes obsessed with the idea of building an opera house in the small Peruvian city he lives in. To finance this dream, he sets out for an unclaimed parcel of land in the hopes of making his fortune as a rubber baron. Rated PG.   

The Lost City of Z (2016) 
At the dawn of the 20th century, British explorer Percy Fawcett journeys into the Amazon, where he discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment and having to leave his family behind, Fawcett continues to return to his beloved jungle to find the truth. Rated PG-13.