My review tonight is on the Shack, another film based upon a very popular book. Once more I walk into the fluorescent filled rooms of the local theater to bring you another review on the latest “masterpieces” to grace the silver screen. Before we begin note that I have not read the book, but the Wikipedia, and therefore cannot say how close it matches the tale. In addition, as I’m ranking this film it is based on the movie aspects, not just the morals it has to share. So, before casting stones at this review, please read with an open mind. Let’s get to it.
- Feels likes a book
- Fantastic Musical Scores
- Octavia Spencer, and the rest of the cast
- Beautiful Scenery
- Solid delivery of important morals
Summary: Often a movie adaptation of the book cuts a lot of corners and loses the literary feel we fell in love with. The Shack is an exception to Hollywood’s usual trend of diluting quality for high budget special effects. Over the 2.25 hours, one feels they are indeed walking through a book, traversing the journey with the protagonist and developing with them. The director kept close to the framework of story (as summarized by Wikipedia), allowing one to appreciate all the plot had without being bogged down by specialized showcases.
Amidst the breathtaking scenery of the quaint “paradise”, you’ll be engaged by an equally brilliant musical score that matches the themes of Mack Phillips’ journey and the setting around him. And while the score will move you in one way, it is the acting of our small band of characters that might spark even more tears (at least it did with many of my fellow audience members). While Sam Worthington, Avraham Aviv Alush, and Sumire Matsubara certainly do their parts justice in their own ways as they deliver the important wisdom shared by the all-knowing, it is Octavia Spencer who gets my praise for stealing the show. A combination of sass, whit, wisdom, love and more. Octavia breaks the mold of the movie and adds a little life to what would otherwise be a very monotone cast.
Yet all of these qualities mirror around the strongest aspect of the film, the important lessons contained within. If you’ve done your homework, then you will know this movie is very religious and with it comes a lot of deep lessons. What this reviewer liked was how these lessons were delivered in this movie. Rather than the usual preachy monologues and overbearing grandiosity, The Shack delivers its messages through well written dialogue that fits naturally into the story. Much of the movie feels like a common conversation between friends helping each other out, despite one of them knowing all the answers. And the way it was all presented managed to illicit a feeling in my chest that somehow removed a weight (and no it wasn’t gas from the popcorn).
- Tim McGraw’s monologue
- Does become preachy at times
- Editing could have used some work
- Could have been a Netflix special
Like the movie, I ask for no scorn on this first dislike. Tim McGraw did not do much for me in this project, the once decent actor reduced to a very dry, hasty, unemotional monologue that was more annoying than necessary (other than maybe summarize what could have been another fifteen minutes of film). These moments, alongside a few other sequences, diverted from that casual delivery I liked and traversed down the cheesy delivery path that has been done to death. While many were fine, there are those few moments that could have been left to a reread of the book or deleted scenes.
Speaking of deleted scenes, the movie’s editing could have also used some work. Why this movie was over two hours long, I can’t really justify, but there were plenty of parts (primarily at the beginning) that could have been shortened and delivered the same punch; though I do appreciate the attempt at building up the “suspense”. And the scenes I wanted to see were left out! Regardless many of these moments are extra fluff to what is going to be a predictable ending. Even if you haven’t read the book, you can guess what is going to happen overall, which in this genre I guess is to be expected. And while I do appreciate the simplicity of this film, the lack of visual effects, twists, and complexity made me feel this movie could have been just as successful on Netflix than at the big screen.
To quote the movie, I do not wish to be the judge, but nevertheless I have a job to do. Overall the Shack is one of the better religious based movies I’ve seen that forgoes the grandiosity for the casually enjoyable lesson. Using simple tricks, they are able to convey some important messages, while interjecting both fun and beauty into what could have been a snooze fest. Morals aside though, much of the movie components still need work including editing out some scenes, avoiding preachy moments, and adding a little more flare and magic to justify the big screen ticket price. Yet I must say I enjoy it, and encourage all who aren’t shy of religion to give it a shot.
Movie Overall: 6.5