Freeze Frame: “Jungle Cruise” (PG-13), “Stillwater” (R), “The Last Mercenary”

Turning a theme park ride into a movie worked box office wonders for Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean.” The Mouse House employs the same template with “Jungle Cruise.” Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt bring plenty of personal charisma to their roles of a charming Amazon boat captain and a spunky English explorer. It’s too bad that their efforts are wasted on such a hokey script. There’s a torrent of Disney visual magic on display in this tongue-in-cheek comic adventure, but the efforts are uninspired. Thanks to its stars, “Jungle Cruise” is a pleasantly forgettable voyage. Just promise me that there won’t be an “It’s a Small World” movie!

The controversial case of Amanda Knox provides the inspiration for the fictional drama, “Stillwater.” Matt Damon stars as a good old boy from Oklahoma who travels to Marseille, France to help exonerate his daughter who is serving a prison sentence for murder. Filmmaker Tom McCarthy’s work is smart, sincere, and empathetic. It’s also overlong and erratically paced. Damon leads a strong cast, but Abigail Breslin is a standout as his imprisoned daughter. “Stillwater” is a compelling movie that could have been even better with some judicious editing.

Jean-Claude Van Damme became a star in the 1980s with a string of martial arts action hits. The 60-year-old kickboxer-turned-actor has a bit of fun with his tough guy image in the silly French action comedy, “The Last Mercenary.” He plays a former special agent known as “The Mist” who comes out of hiding to save his son from mobsters. There’s nothing original in this goofy spoof but “The Last Mercenary” may provide a few nostalgic laughs for undemanding JCVD fans.

Your local art house theaters are offering online viewing options for a number of intriguing movie titles. More information is available at nelson-atkins.org, Screenland.com, and fineartsgroup.com.


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