'Jungle Cruise'

Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in a scene from  “Jungle Cruise.”

JUNGLE CRUISE

(Theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access)

Do you recall that the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series of movies started out as a ride in Disneyland? Now we have another flick inspired by a ride.

This time it’s “Jungle Cruise,” an attraction that dates back to 1955 when Disneyland first opened.

Although director Jaume Collet-Serra’s film remains predictably formulaic, the effects are spectacular and Dwayne Johnson as boat captain Frank “Skipper” Wolff and Emily Blunt as London scientist Dr. Lily Houghton make up for the film’s weaknesses with their charm and chemistry.

Set during World War I and boasting a cartoonish villain in German Prince Joachim (Texas’ own Jesse Plemons), the film follows Skipper, Lily and Lily’s brother McGregor (Jack Whitehall) on a dangerous Amazon trek in Skipper’s ancient boat.

The purpose of the trip is to locate the legendary “Tree of Life” deep within the rain forest. In a nod to Indiana Jones, “Jungle Cruise” abounds with snakes and more snakes!

Rated PG-13

 3 Stars

STILLWATER

(Theaters)

In his finest performance, Matt Damon portrays Oklahoman Bill Baker, who works as a oil rig roughneck (when jobs are available) in this stunning drama directed by Tom McCarthy.

Baker leaves Stillwater to travel to Marseilles, France where his daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) has been in prison for 4 years after being found guilty of killing her roommate, an Arabic young woman who was also her lover.

Even though Allison considers her father to be unreliable because of his past history as a drunk, she asks him to contact her attorney about getting a new trial. In a place where he doesn’t speak the language, doesn’t understand the justice system or much of anything, Baker attempts to help his daughter, but he behaves so clumsily that he makes matters worse.  Because of his redneck bravado, he experiences heartbreak but remains committed to helping Allison.

Along with Damon, the well-developed characters are played by Breslin, Camille Cottin as Virginie and Lilou Siauvaud as Maya.

Questions of morality and truth dominate in the captivating “Stillwater.” The feature received a 5-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival.

Rated R

3 and 1/2 Stars

THE GREEN KNIGHT

(Theaters)

Based on the legendary epic tale of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” the film takes place toward the end of King Arthur’s (Sean Harris) reign.

Although he does not fit into the gallant knight category, Arthur’s nephew Gawain (Dev Patel) challenges the horrific and gigantic Green Knight when the ogre bursts into a Round Table revelry.

Gawain’s mother (Sarita Choudury) surreptitiously called forth spells to give her son this chance to succeed Arthur.

Written and directed by David Lowery, the medieval fantasy adventure follows Gawain a year later in his scary quest to meet again with the Green Knight. On his journey, Gawain encounters ghosts, strange creatures and thieves, and a mysterious Lord (Joel Edgerton) and Lady (Oscar winner Alicia Vilander, who also portrays Essel), who invite him to stay in their castle.

His mystical journey takes Gawain through dangerous, misty forests. Cinematographer Andrew Dros Palermo creates an enchanted fantasy world rife with supernatural elements. Although “The Green Knight” makes for compelling viewing, its symbolism sometimes remains elusive.

Rated R

3 Stars

Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews movies, arts and  entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR.

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