Faith-based cinema gets remarkably dark in The Shack (PG-13), based on William P. Young's self-published bestseller about a father grieving his murdered child. Tough seeing the light through that.
Sam Worthington plays distraught dad Mack Phillips, who left his daughter alone at a Pacific Northwest campsite when she was abducted. The trail leads to an isolated shack and the girl's bloodied clothes but no body. Mack sinks into depression until he's summoned to the shack by a letter that seems to be from God.
Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer co-stars as the deity, known as Papa, who's part of a manifested trinity including Jesus (Avraham Aviv Alush) and the Holy Spirit (Sumire Matsubara). Inspirational messages are assured but we're walking through the valley of the shadow of a child's unsavory death.
BEFORE I FALL
Samantha Kingston is a teenager in a Groundhog Day rut, reliving the same day over and over. The fact that it's also her last day alive adds tension to Before I Fall (PG-13), a promising YA fantasy.
Zoey Deutch (Why Him?) plays Samantha, whose life is perfect until it tragically ends in a car crash. Strangely, she awakens the next day, which is the same day, Feb. 12, Cupid's Day at her school. Samantha remembers the accident but can't avoid it, learning more about her life and friends with each rerun.
INDIE FLICK: TABLE 19
Anna Kendrick is too adorable to dump, so Table 19 (PG-13) could be considered science fiction. Instead it's a comedy starring Kendrick as a maid of honor relieved of that honor when her best-man boyfriend jilts her. She defiantly attends the wedding but is banished to that table at every wedding where outcasts congregate. Table 19 wasn't screened in time for publication.
in theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 Logan: Requiem for a Marvel mutant. (Hugh Jackman). Best comic book flick since The Dark Knight.
2 Gasparilla International Film Festival: The 11th edition includes a tribute to actor Patrick Wilson.
3 The LEGO BatmanMovie: Taking apart the Caped Crusader's legacy, interlocking piece by piece.
4 La La Land: Academy Award winner for actress Emma Stone and director Damien Chazelle.
5 Fences: The role that deservedly won an Oscar for Viola Davis.
(Dates subject to change)
March 10: Kong: Skull Island; Raw
March 17: Beauty and the Beast; Free Fire
March 24: Power Rangers; King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
March 31: Ghost in the Shell; The Boss Baby; The Zookeeper's Wife