After a long and unfortunate gap between awards season and the coming of Spring, we may finally have some good options for this weekend.
It seems strange, given that neither of the previous standalone Wolverine films were received very well, that the third one should be one of the most anticipated superhero films of the year. But so it is – Logan, an adaptation of the comic story arc “Old Man Logan,” is a film that a lot of people are looking forward to. There are many reasons for this – the trailer is done very well, it’s taking great efforts to not look like a straight-up superhero movie, it’s rated R (hearkening some inappropriate comparisons to Deadpool), and it’s supposedly Hugh Jackman’s last film as Wolverine. For my part, I expect it to be a good film, and I usually really appreciate the themes of fatherhood that the film appears to be taking on, especially with an actor like Jackman at the helm. Where the film does give me some pause is in the R rating – the nature of Wolverine’s ability means this will probably be quite bloody, and there will probably be a good bit of language. There’s also a brief scene of female nudity (from the Parent’s Guide on IMDb, it appears brief enough that you could just look away for a moment and it be past). From reviews that I’ve seen, it seems that both the violence and the language are front-heavy, almost as if it’s for shock value and then eases off later into the film. I have little doubt that it will introduce redemptive themes into the story, and certainly the portrayal of a rough world is not unreasonable, but the strong nature of the content is reason for caution.
Logan is rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity.
As incredible as it may seem, The Shack is a faith-based film that has no sex, foul language, homosexuality, or anti-religious sentiment, and yet is still highly controversial within the Evangelical Christian community. The reason for this is doctrinal – the film presents the Trinity in a form that, although it is admittedly a parable of sorts, is considered heretical. I am in agreement with those who are concerned with the film’s theology (it presents the Godhead as three separate members rather than Triune, and changing the gender of God, even temporarily, is highly troubling). However, I also think that this film, featuring talent such as Mark Wahlburg and Octavia Spencer, has a good chance of reaching those who are not committed Christians. For this reason, it can be a great launching pad for spiritual discussion, and I would encourage Christians to see it for that reason.
The Shack is rated PG-13 for thematic elements.
Before I Fall
In what should have been titled “Not Another Young Adult Drama”, Before I Fall is a film about a teenage girl who relives the last day of her life over the span of a week, presumably learning something new about herself each time. That concept is fine, but there’s not a whole lot new here – it’s very reminiscent of Young Adult drama If I Stay, which wasn’t particularly great, and also includes portrayals of the main character’s emerging sexuality, and in a way that Christian parents would likely be very uncomfortable with. Especially given the other films coming out this weekend, there’s not much reason to give this one your time.
Before I Fall is rated PG-13 for mature thematic content involving drinking, sexuality, bullying, some violent images, and language, all involving teens.
The Last Word
The Last Word is a film that makes me a little bit sad. It has all of the right pieces – an older Hollywood movie star who plays a cranky old woman, a young actress who will persuade her to aspire to being a better person, and even a young character who can bring in the theme of touching other people’s lives while touching on racial issues with a comical edge. Shirley Maclaine plays Harriet, a rude control freak who tasks a young writer (Amanda Seyfried) with writing her obituary, only to discover that no one is willing to say anything nice about her. That’s when she decides to change. I love everything about that, especially the idea that you’re never too old to become a better person. Unfortunately, the film is rated R for language, and language alone. It’s hard to indulge in this uplifting message if you have to sit through dozens of f-bombs. Additionally, early reviews have been very poor, citing the film’s predictability and over-reliance on cliche and a poor script. It’s a shame that this is such a wasted opportunity, but I think it highly unlikely that it will be worth watching.
The Last Word is rated R for language.
Anna Kendrick has been hitting a lot of right notes over the past few years, especially with her developing persona as a fun, down-to-earth personality. That’s one of the reasons I’m hopeful about Table 19, her latest comedic drama. I wouldn’t expect this to be a “knocked it out of the park” type of film (genre films like this rarely are), but it does appear to be endearing, positive, and uplifting. Anna Kendrick’s character decides against her better judgment to attend a wedding in which she was unceremoniously kicked out of being the maid of honor, after the best man dumped her over text. She gets dumped at table 19 along with a lot of other people nobody seems to care about, but it’s there that these people learn to care about each other. Sure, that sounds cheesy (and probably is), but with surrounding comedic talent like Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson, the film has a lot going for it. While the film is PG-13, it does have some warnings for sexual content in the rating advisory. For that reason, it might be recommended to wait until you can consult a parent’s guide, but the worldview of the film appears to be positive and uplifting.
Table 19 is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, drug use, language, and some brief nudity.
Recommendation: My recommendations this week are kind of divided by interest. If you’re into something with action, I do think Logan could be worth seeing, although the content does warrant caution. If you’re not wanting something violent, then I think Table 19 will be a good choice as well, and probably a great date movie. As I said above, I do think The Shack is a film Christians should dialogue with, even if only as a discussion starter, but don’t feel rushed; I would see these other, likely better, films first.