Movie Mini-Review Marathon: The Shack, Hacksaw Ridge, Logan, Beauty and the Beast

Between starting up a podcast and doing that full-time teacher thing I do, I’ve barely had time to see many movies and I’ve definitely not had any time to type up any lenghty reviews on said movies. That means it’s time for… MOVIE MINI-REVIEW MARATHON!

The Shack (2017)

The Shack is based on a novel of the same name written by William P. Young. The movie follows a grieving father years after his youngest daughter was abducted and murdered by a serial killer. The man revisits the shack that his daughter was killed in and has an encounter with The Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). What ensues is a series of interesting dialogues with the Godhead about morality, forgiveness, and why a good God allows bad things to happen. While this movie is certainly better than most movies geared towards conservative Christian audiences (i.e. Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and God’s Not Dead), it still suffers from lackluster acting. I feel that the main character (portrayed by Sam Worthington) couldn’t decide between an American or Australian accent and would switch between the two mid-scene. I would say Christians would love this movie, but even the intended audience is divided on whether to accept it or not. (To which I will say, The Shack is fiction. One of the most treasured Christian book series features Jesus portrayed as a talking lion living in a wardrobe with a lot of other talking animals. No one bats their eyes at the theology therein.) I myself, found the movie’s main points interesting and worthy of discussion, even if the movie itself was not great.

The Shack tries to answer most people’s questions regarding a good God allowing bad things to happen and features a story about forgiveness that is very counter-cultural to most Hollywood movies now-a-days, but suffers from bad acting and oversimplified answers to (or otherwise skirting around) very hard questions.

I give The Shack a grade of….

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Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Opposite to The Shack, Hacksaw Ridge features a compelling, gritty story about a character struggling to exist in a world and time where his faith in God puts his very life on the line. Hacksaw Ridge follows the true story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector to violence who wants to join the army during World War II. He goes from being villainized by his military superiors and beaten by his fellow ensigns, to risking his life to save those same people in the line of duty. Desmond Doss is a lovable character and the glimpses we get into his past life that exposes his motivations and faith are poignant. Even more gripping is seeing his determination to keep his faith under fire (figuratively and literally). Desmond’s fellow soldiers are also relatable and sometimes even lovable. Most times when I watch movies at home, I have out my laptop to work on something while I watch. But for this movie, I actually put my laptop away. The war sequences are real and vicious, and Desmond’s selfless heroics really draw you in. I wish more faith-based movies would allow themselves to be real like this, to show real people struggling with real questions in a real way, to not white-wash the hard road of faith that people choose to walk every day.

Hacksaw Ridge is a gripping story of war and a man’s heroics, but it is also a story about a man’s faith and his struggle to keep it. Andrew Garfield was nominated for an Oscar Award for Best Actor for his portrayal in this movie and I do think it is a shame he didn’t win. The movie features great acting, great directing, and a great, true story. This movie is a must-watch from the year of 2016.

I give Hacksaw Ridge a grade of…

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Logan (2017)

From its R-Rating to its flagrant absence of a post-credits scene, Logan means to set itself apart from the over-inundation of super hero films hitting theaters since 2008. Logan presents an aged Wolverine, far removed from the barbaric mutant hero that we have seen in past X-Men movies. Set in the not-too-distant future of 2029, the audience sees into a future that is frighteningly possible (from overreaching business conglomerates, the danger of mass-produced foodstuffs, and border/racial tensions). Unlike most super hero movies, that feature action, explosions, and spandex from the end of the first act to the conclusion of the movie, Logan takes time to allow quiet, introspective moments, where we get to see the emotional conflict and quieter battles that Logan is fighting now in his advanced age. While this movie is certainly bloody and gory, don’t go into it expecting the usual adamantium-laced violence you’re used to in Hugh Jackman’s past outings. This is a story about relationships, doomed and familial (though those are sometimes one and the same) – Logan’s relationship with the ailing Professor Xavier, and his relationship with his surrogate daughter Laura. I will say, I wish the movie had played more into the father-daughter relationship between Laura and Logan a little more. It would have made the final act of the movie more poignant. I was also frustrated with how little the movie would reveal of what happened in the past and what was happening in the rest of the world, but the tidbits interwoven into the character dialogue and setting shots offer tantalizing possibilities that the viewers can infer. The acting in this movie was phenomenal. Possibly the best I’ve seen in a Marvel movie, ever? Hugh Jackman tugs at our heartstrings as an embittered Logan and Patrick Stewart portrays a very different side to the usually composed Professor Xavier. Even the movie’s main villain (portrayed by Boyd Holbrook) was a compelling character. I’d be very disappointed if neither Hugh Jackman nor Patrick Stewart received at least a nod from the Oscars next year.

I cannot stress enough that this is NOT  a movie for children. There is excessive strong language, nudity, and very gory violence. 

Logan truly sets itself apart from most Marvel superhero movies (and yes, I am aware that some may not consider it a true Marvel movie since Fox is producing it). Logan’s emotional conflict is palpable and gives us a glimpse into the character that so few super hero movies allow. It is a fitting conclusion to Hugh Jackman’s 17-year long  portrayal of Wolverine and I will certainly miss seeing him in the role.

I give Logan a grade of…

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

I had a lot of trepidations going into this movie. Disney’s original, animated classic of the same name from 1991 is one of my top five favorite Disney films ever. I had even more anxiety after listening to the soundtrack and hearing just the AWFUL auto-tune applied to Emma Watson’s voice in more than one track and Ewan McGregor’s just… horrid French accent. But I am happy to say that I am happy with Beauty and the Beast. The film added some much needed background exposition to further flesh out the main characters and even to answer some of the questions and plot holes from the animated version. Alan Menken (the original composer for the 1991 Beauty and the Beast and many other Disney classics) returned to do the music and he added some new songs, which I am just enthralled with (“Evermore” is going to be stuck in my head for a long time). I especially liked the additions to Belle’s character. Belle was always an intelligent and brave Disney Princess, but this movie adds to her intelligence, bravery, and kindness throughout the story. I appreciate her desire to educate the other young girls in the village and her want to help those around her. Belle’s still my number one Disney Princess. I am hesitant with Disney’s desire to redo all its animated classics as live-action, but if the future adaptations continue this trend of adding to and expounding on rather than just retreading or otherwise throwing out the source material, than I will be pleased.

Beauty and the Beast recaptures the original magic from 1991, but adds to it with new, wonderful songs and some great characterization. However, I could not get past Ewan McGregor’s French accent, Emma Watson’s obviously doctored singing vocals, and some odd/poorly explained/cheesy character interactions in the resolution.

I give Beauty and the Beast a…

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Have you seen any good movies lately? What do you think of my thoughts on the above movies? Let me know in the comments below.

Stay nerdy, y’all!

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2 thoughts on “Movie Mini-Review Marathon: The Shack, Hacksaw Ridge, Logan, Beauty and the Beast

  1. I read your reviews to Papaw as he is driving and he said, “I think he did a good job”! I agree. We have only seen Hacksaw Ridge and totally agree with your well written review. We hate that he did not get Best Actor too but we never watch the Oscars any more. Since you liked this movie have you seen “Unbroken” from several years back? I think you would like it. I’m always proud of you Grandson❤

    Like

    • I did see “Unbroken,” actually. Also, a good movie. I wouldn’t put it on quite the same pedestal as “Hacksaw Ridge” though.

      Like

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