Disney is fully leaning into the development of film and television projects based on the classic rides that have attracted guests to the parks for decades. Jungle Cruise is the latest example and Pirates of the Caribbean is the most successful. Pirates of the Caribbean built a franchise that will span more than five films and has earned over $4.5 billion so far. Knowing this, it isn’t a surprise that Disney seems to have taken a page out of the first Pirates of the Caribbean film when developing Jungle Cruise.
Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl were each adapted from long standing Disney attractions that first opened at Disneyland park. Each film clearly takes not only elements directly from the attraction, but the heart and tone of the ride as well.
Jungle Cruise understandably leans into the puns and the adventure on the Amazon, even using gags from the ride itself, including the famed “eighth wonder of the world, the backside of water!” Pirates of the Caribbean incorporates a number of scenes as well, including the pirates attempting to bribe the dog holding the jail keys closer, the pillaging of the town, and the famous song from the ride.
HOW THE TONE OF THE ATTRACTION IMPACTS THE TONE OF JUNGLE CRUISE AND PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL
A fundamental difference in the films is the tone, which makes sense given the fact that the rides themselves have very different tones. Jungle Cruise, like the ride, is light hearted leaning into the comedy with tons of puns. The new film explores the adventure element of an expedition on the Amazon while building the mythology and curse out of the setting of the ride, the jungle and the river, instead of the ride itself.
Pirates of the Caribbean is darker tonally as a film and leans into the swashbuckling mayhem of piracy and unlike Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean had the advantage of developing the lore of the curse from the attraction itself with the skeletal pirates still standing at their stations. Given how silly the Jungle Cruise attraction is, the way the film uses the environment to build the mythology and curse is impressive in its creativity.
Jungle Cruise also followed in Pirates of the Caribbean’s footsteps when it comes to the film’s antagonists. Each film features an antagonist contemporary to the period in which the film is set, German royalty in Jungle Cruise which is set during WWI, and British Royal Navy in Pirates of the Caribbean in the 1700s, while also utilizing villains that develop and expand the larger lore of the film.
The villains tied to the curse in each film help to further build out the film’s lore while also adding an element of body horror. In Pirates of the Caribbean, the curse is revealed fully when the crew of the Black Pearl are shown to be skeletal pirates unable to be killed. While Jungle Cruise shows Conquistadors, who are built out of the jungle itself with snakes slithering under the skin of the leader Aguirre.
The body horror demonstrates the truly terrifying ramifications of each curse and reveals a twist that completely changes the film. Jungle Cruise’s revelation that Frank is one of the cursed Conquistador changes everything about his character and motivation, but unlike Pirates of the Caribbean this very quickly falls into Jungle Cruise’s comedic tone instead of digging deeper into the horror and drama. Although the film does dive into drama and heartbreak the curse has brought Frank later in the story.
The curse itself is an important part of how the heroes win in both films with the heroes cleverly using the curse against the antagonists to defeat them. In Pirates of the Caribbean the protagonists break the curse at the opportune time to save themselves while stopping the crew of the Black Pearl. Jungle Cruise uses the moment to show Frank’s development and love for Lily when he allows himself to be petrified alongside the other Conquistadors.
Pirates of the Caribbean successfully built itself around a trio of heroes, at least in the first three films, in Will Turner, Elizabeth Swan, and Jack Sparrow who is clearly at the forefront. Jungle Cruise seems to use this same idea of a main trio with Frank, MacGregor, and Lily. One aspect of the trio that is especially notable and important, given the fact that these are period pieces, is that they feature strong women with agency.
Elizabeth Swan longs for adventure and is an important part of defeating the cursed pirates. In the subsequent films, she fully becomes a pirate herself even rising to the rank of Pirate King. Jungle Cruise features Lily, a doctor who is searching for the legendary Tears Of The Moon Tree and wears pants and goes on expeditions at a time when society dubbed that behavior improper. Both characters are involved in the fighting and are able to save not only themselves, but their allies as well.
Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean are fundamentally different films, and attractions, which is clear from the very first scenes. Although both fall into the broad genre of adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean is darker in tone and more focused on the swashbuckling, where Jungle Cruise leans more heavily into the comedy and lightheartedness of the classic romantic adventure films.
It is clear throughout the new film that Jungle Cruise recognized the success of Pirates of the Caribbean and some of the elements that helped to build a multi-billion dollar franchise. By incorporating these elements Jungle Cruise has built a foundation for a possible franchise following in the footsteps of the most successful Disney attraction adaptation.
What did you think of Jungle Cruise? Do you think it has a similar feel to Pirates Of The Caribbean? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media.
KEEP READING: JUNGLE CRUISE REVIEW: THE FAMILY ADVENTURE OF THE SUMMER