Friday, July 28, 2017

The Shack Movie Review

The Shack (2017)
Rent The Shack on Amazon Video // Buy the book
Written by: John Fusco and Andrew Lanham & Destiny Daniel Cretton (screenplay), William P. Young and Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings (Based on the book by, in collaboration with)
Directed by: Stuart Hazeldine
Starring: Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Tim McGraw, Radha Mitchell
Rating:PG-13

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

Plot
A grieving man receives a mysterious, personal invitation to meet with God at a place called "The Shack."

Verdict
As religious movies usually are, this can be heavy handed. It doesn't try to start a discussion or make you think, it tells you exactly what you should know. It's ambitious to try to explain God, but the story telling is lacking. The set up isn't bad, but it doesn't go anywhere. Eventually the movie tells us what we should glean from this encounter and the movie ends. It's a higher budget made-for-tv movie.
Skip it.

Review 
This becomes a sermon, telling you what to think and do, i want something subtle that fosters discussion. It's less a parable, which I'd prefer, and more just instruction.
Relying on depicting God as a middle aged black woman is a great idea and it works wonderfully, but there is very little past that.

The narration is a bit much and succumbs to the mistake of just explaining what's on screen. In less than five minutes we get the implication that something tragic happened, though we don't know the specifics. Soon enough we get the over the top spark to the plot. While one of Mack's kids nearly drowns, the youngest daughter is kidnapped. Despite a busy park and numerous people, no one saw the perpetrator or him taking the daughter. She apparently didn't make a sound. It's little things like this that bog the movie down. It's not realistic and makes the script feel amateurish. There's no way the daughter was abducted as depicted. The story is crafted with a sledgehammer, whatever it takes to get to the next scene.
Tim McGraw is a standout, the helpful neighbor that's trapped in movie that is lacking. Octavia Spencer as God does a fine job, she just doesn't have a lot to work with. While the movie tried to have a dark tone, when Mack meets God the tone becomes almost comedic. This bounces between members of the trinity and features a water walking race between Mack and Jesus. It's as ridiculous as it sounds. Mack is dealing with the death of his daughter, but his mental anguish just vanishes. The plot often just takes the easiest way to get to the next point.

This doesn't present an opinion and let you determine your thoughts. It tells you what to think. This is a movie where you know where it's going every step of the way. Do religious movies have to be heavy handed? Apparently.

Donnie Darko (2001) is what I want a religious movie to attempt. That felt like a religious movie, but it's ambiguous. It lets you draw your own conclusions, but to me it felt relifious. Upon watching the director's cut a few years later, the only addition to the film seemed to be the addition of the word "God" multiple times. That only confirmed what I thought Donnie Darko was.

I did like the final few scenes, but that's probably just a contrast to how much I didn't like the rest of the movie. In most other movies, I'd criticize the conclusion for bringing it down. The same ending here is an improvement.

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