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Disney showmanship was on full display on Saturday as the studio gave the 7,000-something-person, primed crowd at its bi-annual convention D23 the first glimpse of upcoming adventure movie Jungle Cruise. Both Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt were onstage, playfully riffing against one another while also acknowledging that the movie harkens back to the spirit of movies such as the Indiana Jones films, Romancing the Stone and The African Queen.
Johnson initially sailed into the large presentation hall riding a wheeled river boat, a stunt that made the crowd rise to its feet in applause. The movie has “romance, big comedy, big action, and most importantly, me,” he said.
The footage that followed was heavy on Johnson’s charm and muscle, introducing him as a skipper who takes tourists down a jungle cruise, giving them manufactured thrills. Money woes force him to team up with Blunt’s character, who is looking to go deep into the jungle. Much action and adventure, with quips galore, ensues.
“I made a movie about heroic men like me and saving the girl,” he said.
Just then, from the opposing side of the stage, Blunt rolled up in the back of a Model T-style automobile to provide a counterpoint to his raging ego. “This is a two-hander,” she admonished him. “Did you cut that yourself?!” She then introduced another reel, “Forget what you saw, we’re going to take a real look at Jungle Cruise.”
Then a reel featuring Blunt’s scientist in escapades in turn-of-the-century London, meeting the skipper from her point of view. In various jungle settings she needed no help at all, which thrilled the crowd.
The banter continued after the footage. “I’m trying to give people what they want. Me,” Johnson said, adding, “The last time I was here [at D23], I was a demi-god, literally.” (Johnson was a voice star in Moana.)
Blunt shut him down with her line: “Last time I was here, I was Mary Poppins.”
The crowd cheered, loving every minute of it.
The duo became a little more serious later, saying they were aware of the responsibility of the beloved ride and its place in Disneyland history.
Jungle Cruise is directed by The Shallows filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra, and takes place in the early 20th century in the Amazonian jungle. Johnson plays a boat captain who takes a pair of siblings (Blunt and Jack Whitehall) to find a tree purported to have healing powers. Along the way, they must face wild animals as well as a German expedition also seeking the tree. Paul Giamatti is also among the cast.
Jungle Cruise opens July 24, 2020.
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