The ride offers more motivation and depth of character than the movie. Think The African Queen if Katherine Hepburn had to ward off computer generated marine life and Bogey had a 25-inch neck. With no story to speak of other than finding an arrowhead, the plot experiences more climaxes than an Indiana Jones festival. The quintet of screenwriters mercilessly make up legends as they go along, filling the hours with muddy ghosts, kielbasa snakes, and unrequited setups. Frank cautions all aboard not to make eye contact with the Encantado, the mythical river dolphin swimming alongside the boat, lest one be beset by eternal nightmares. Evil dolphins? Only in the movies, and then barely at that. No sooner is the shape-shifting cetacean introduced than it’s pulled off the screen. If the film is to be remembered as something other than a flop, it will go down in the annals of Disneyana as the first to feature an openly gay character. MacGregor’s sexuality is summed up in a brief dialogue exchange with Frank: “My interests lie happily elsewhere.” Perhaps in the sequel, God forbid there is one, we’ll fade out with Frank and MacGregor picking out furniture. (2021) — Scott Marks
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