Jackie Santos: The Jungle Always Wins
We do like a crafty watch of an independent film here at Hedgehog towers. So, when I was asked if I would like to watch a film set in the Amazon Jungle, involving a cruise boat on the Amazon river, I instantly thought, I’m up for that. The Apple TV and sound system was fired up and myself and JJ sat down to watch…
What Is Amazon Queen?
The official synopsis ….
An idyllic Amazon riverboat cruise becomes a nightmare when thieves in search of a downed plane loaded with stolen money take over the boat. As the passengers develop a plan to escape, the jungle will make its own judgement on who survives…
The official synopsis is spot on. Although the film is a little more sedate than the synopsis reads.
Trailer: Amazon Queen
Amazon Queen Stand Out Casting
Carly Diamond Stone (Beach Squad) as Jackie Santos
When I think of a ship’s Captain I immediately think of Captain Sandy from Below Deck Mediterranean. Someone who’s assured, strong minded, has the safety of her crew and passengers firmly in mind, and is not afraid to be demanding. In Amazon Queen, Captain Santos is the opposite. Played by Carly Diamond Stone, Jackie Santos is the Captain of the Amazon Queen river cruise ship. She does not feel in control, and seemed to enjoy any other activity rather than captaining the boat. I don’t think I even saw Santos steer the boat once!
Once you get past the unconvincing captaining, Stone’s performance is at times rather good, standing up to Machado, or arguing with McIntyre, but at other times I just wanted more reaction. There is one scene that is the most horrific thing a woman could face, and the emotion is raw, but in the next shot no emotion, she simply drank a cup of tea and didn’t even address the situation. I can’t tell if its bad direction or Stone’s lack of character development, either way I would have expected Stone to do more with those scenes.
Nick Dreselly Thomas as Flynn McIntyre
Thomas has swapped producing and flying planes for acting in Amazon Queen. Flynn McIntyre is part love interest, part mechanic, part guy who steers the boat. Unfortunately, Thomas’ lack of acting experience shows, and action is not in Thomas’ roster of talents. The couple of action scenes that he does have come across as more comedic, and that’s a shame as Thomas looks the part and handles dialogue well, all be it a steady pace. I’m sure that with more experience in front of the camera Thomas will land himself more roles in the future.
Carson Grant (What Would You Do) as Francisco Santos
Amazon Queen gets support from not just new actors, but from a couple of experienced actors as well. The first to mention is Carson Grant. I must admit I had not heard of Grant before and when I looked him up I was surprised to count over 200 acting credits on IMDB. We first meet the character of Francisco Santos making an appearance that surprises his daughter Jackie (the captain). You can see the regret that Santos displays in reaction to Jackie’s apparent disdain. Grants facial expressions and body language give away his feelings of remorse without the need for many words. Grants interaction with the rest of the cast also works well, Grant obviously has an extensive kit bag of experience to call upon and this is needed as we learn more about his character. I won’t say any more due to spoilers but suffice to say his portrayal of the father figure is played just right and he suits the character.
Massi Furlan (Jumanji: The Next Level) as Machado
The second experienced actor I want to talk about is Massi Furlan. I was sure I recognised Furlan, and when I looked him up on IMDB I could see he brings experience straight from the film sets of major films such as Spiderman Far From Home, Bad Boys For Life, and Jumaji: Next Level.
Furlan appears to be relishing the bad guy role. It’s a shame that Machado is such a horrible character! At every opportunity he is belittling women, telling Santos she should just be a woman and not a captain and slapping older ladies that talk back to him. His decisions also make no sense – one moment he is preparing to leave the ship the next he is actively trying to rape the captain. Why? that scene has no place and no context being in the film – more on that later. Furlan’s performance is very convincing and and he is totally believable as the main antagonist. He is given some quite challenging scenes to create and doesn’t seem to flinch. Its scary how well Furlan delivers his bad guy persona with the ability to switch Machado’s temperament in an instant. Furlan’s acting experience shows on screen and unfortunately it does show up the inexperience of a couple of the cast he acts against.
Amazon Queen Production Values
Having visited over 140 countries over the last 40 years Amazon Queen is directed by one of the world’s most travelled documentary film makers Marlin Darrah, and it shows. Darrah documentary pedigree is evident on screen. You can tell that Darrah cares very much about the Amazon and has been able to capture some gorgeous shots of the rain forest and its various creatures. Whilst you can tell that these shots are cut into the film, efforts have been made, such as skilful colour grading to distract the viewer from thinking that the cast are looking at balls on sticks.
A typical trait with independent films is poor sound quality, and sadly its trait that Amazon Queen inherits. There are scenes in a fish market and the actual Amazon rainforest that would have been more immersive if we could hear the local ambience, but instead we are treated to a constantly changing background track, that is at times far too loud. This impacted our enjoyment of the film. In one scene the music ends and changes to a completely new track mid scene.
Effects / Costumes
Apart from a couple of badly handled action scenes, Amazon Queen needed very little in the way of special effects. The shots on board the Amazon Queen looked great, and I loved the attention to detail to the makeup whenever McIntyre was tinkering with the engine. Other simple but effective effects were the various gunshot wounds.
Thoughts On Amazon Queen
In an interview, Darrah stated that he wanted ‘to produce and direct an adventure-thriller feature film in the Amazon and transport audiences into the great jungle and river so they can be entertained, learn more about, and marvel at the Amazon.’ I would say this is mission accomplished
Amazon Queen follows a journey of arriving in Brazil, embarking on a River Cruise, exploring the Jungle, witnessing a native tribe dance, and introducing the viewer to a wide range of Amazon creatures. It really does feel like you are along with them on the cruise. Amazon Queen was shot entirely on location in Brazil, and aboard a working luxury riverboat.
The film’s story is ok; however, this is an independent film, so don’t expect mega studio levels of refinement in the creative process. As mentioned earlier an attempted rape scene angered me a lot. Up to that point it had been an enjoyable family friendly film, but that scene shifted the tone of the film completely. It does nothing to push the fair treatment of women and tonally it screws up Amazon Queen from a simple yet enjoyable heist film. If I was the editor, I would consider cutting it out completely as it adds nothing to the film.
Part documentary, part action film, Amazon Queen does a lot right to show the Amazon in its glory and educate to the plight of deforestation, but it also does a few things wrong that may not be everyone’s liking.
Los Angeles, CA (September 22, 2021) – Vision Films Inc. (“Vision”) announces the VOD release on October
12 of Amazon Queen,
Amassing over fifty awards and wins at film festivals around the world.
Darrah executive produced, directed and co-wrote the script with Rick Cullis and Richard Lasser.
Executive producers include Carson Grant, Robert Nadell DVM, Michael McConnell, and Mona Pittenger
The film stars
Carly Diamond Stone (Beach Squad),
Carson Grant (What Would You Do),
Nick Dreselly Thomas,
Massi Furlan (Jumanji: The Next Level),
Alfonso DiLuca (Jane the Virgin),
Vicky Dawson (TheProwler),
Cristina Encarnacion (Waves),
and Clayton Meek (Holiday Twist).
Amazon Queen will be available on VOD and all major cable platforms:
iTunes, Vimeo, Amazon, GooglePlay, Vudu, and Vimeo.
About Vision Films
Vision Films is a leading independent sales and VOD aggregator specializing in the licensing, marketing,
and distribution of over 800 feature films, documentaries, and series from some of the most prolific
independent film producers in the world. Led by Lise Romanoff, Managing Director/CEO Worldwide
Distribution, Vision Films releases 2-4 films a month across Theatrical, VOD, DVD, and television
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