Welcome To The Jungle (2007)

Welcome to the Jungle is incredibly boring. Simple in idea and diabolically executed, it is a dull trudge through mediocrity that is both cliché and pedestrian.

Four friends, living in New Guinea, have been given a surprise adventure. A friend has told them of an old white man hidden deep within the jungle, in cannibal territory. Convinced this man could be Michael Rockefeller, the two couples set off on a mission to find him. What they discover, however, is the harsh unforgivable jungles of New Guinea and their psychotic inhabitants, and their little adventures slowly turns into a fight for survival. Albeit a very dull one.

Michael Rockefeller is one of the world’s millions of missing people… except with one small difference. He was the son of former vice president Nelson Rockefeller and heir to the Rockefeller fortune. I say “was” because it’s widely believed he died in the jungle on an expedition in 1961, having swum to shore after his canoe overturned. He was never seen again. While it’s certainly likely he was the victim of a crocodile or shark attack, some believe he was attacked by a tribe of cannibals. Although nothing has ever been confirmed, there is also speculation he joined one of the indigenous tribes and has been living there ever since. This wildly speculative idea is the basis for Welcome to the Jungle. And that’s quite literally as exciting as the film gets…

Welcome to the Jungle is filmed first-person style, as if desperately attempting to emulate the tension and kinetic fury of Blair Witch and Cloverfield, but it simply doesn’t work. Shot too slickly and with some completely unfeasible camera angles, it’s just distinctly unbelievable from the beginning. It is also truly, utterly, infuriatingly boring.

The four friends are on a mission to find Michael Rockefeller – they have a map, apparently, and some kind of plan. What it is, we do not know. We just go on their journey along some roads and then into the jungle. Occasionally they meet locals and missionaries, but mostly they just bumble around the jungle chatting and moaning and becoming more annoying as each minute passes. Tensions flare early on between the two couples – Mandi and Colby are go-getting, 6am starting, purposeful adventurers while Mikey and Bijou are holidaying, lazy, alcoholic fools. The mission goes awry early on, Bijou muttering “I drink to make you guys interesting” before she and Mikey run off with Mandi and Colby’s food, drinks and gun. This splitting up proves to be deadly, and soon Mandi and Colby find themselves on a new mission – to save their friends from blood-thirsty cannibals.

The major, over-arching problem with Welcome to the Jungle are the characters. Since director / writer Jonathan Hensleigh decided to skip all the essentials of place, time, idea, sense and reason, the focus is instead pulled to the four characters – which was a woeful decision. The characters are all hateful. They are irresponsible, rude, stupid, completely unaware of their surroundings and even steal human skulls from a tribal burial ground because they might be able to “sell them on ebay”. You instantly hate them. Just hate them.

Despite Jonathan Hensleigh’s name being on the writing credits, the piece feels like it’s been improvised by a group of bored school children. Hensleigh has been responsible for writing the memorable likes of Die Hard With a Vengeance, Jumanji, Armageddon and The Punisher (2004), so it’s difficult to think the soporific mess that is Welcome to the Jungle’s “script” is his creation alone. It is embarrassingly amateurish.

On one or two occasions the film peaks above being a dreary bucket of vapid dross, like when they discover a human body left as a “warning”, a long bamboo stick driven into her mouth and through the back of her head. But otherwise you rarely see anything at all, just the yawning aftermath of a tribal attack, and it’s incredibly frustrating. Welcome to the Jungle simply does not excite, thrill or intrigue – it just bores.

Badly acted, poorly directed, appallingly scripted and featuring genuinely hateful protagonists, there is very little that redeems this film. It should be called Welcome to the Bumble. Great for curing insomnia, but coma-inducing otherwise. This is dull, dull, dull, dull, dull. Seriously avoid.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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