Oh man, where to start with this one. I went in to the movie not knowing anything about it, aside from that it is about a missing girl and her father who sees her in another world. The first 20 minutes or so were okay to me, interesting, scene- setting, and at times emotional. The family was actually nice to see all together and the initial panic of their missing child felt real.
Then things went downhill, and very quickly. Once Mack enters the shack and travels to the other world, I quickly lost interest. Let me start by saying I have no issue with Christianity or any other religion for that matter, so long as it doesn't harm others. That being said, the entire remaining film length felt like one big "God is great and always loves you" chore to sit through. Another reviewer here said it felt like a big long advertisement and I couldn't agree more. The excuse of having evil be its own force that god can't interfere with felt lazy, and meant only to reaffirm ones belief that god can do no wrong. Every single lesson the film tried to teach felt WAY too ham-fisted and forced. An example that springs to mind is when Mack is made to judge others. He ends up having to choose one of his two children to send to heaven, while the other is sent to hell. He is made to pick between two people who have done no real wrong and told that one must burn. This is supposed to make the viewer see how difficult it must be for God to judge any of his children (who he loves very much), nevermind how many little girls they murder. The whole God world portion of the film felt like it was just there so people could stroke each other off to the idea that they are loved by God, he heals all, and that we must trust in him that everything happens as it should. Watching this movie made me feel like I was sitting in class on a bright sunny day, wanting to be anywhere except in my seat, but instead of learning anything, I was just preached at for nearly 2 hours.
There were a few moments in "The Shack" that felt as though they could have been truly moving and emotional, but came across as stale and forced. One particular interaction is between Mack and his father. I was ready to feel real pain at their meeting, but a vast majority of it was squashed in part by poor acting on the father's part, and again, ham fisted shoehorning of the re-occurring themes. As such, the times I felt emotion could have been real tear jerkers, but came across as flat and unconvincing
All that being said, the movie was visually quite gorgeous. I loved the whole camping, forest, lake, snow and mountain visuals. They were pleasant and beautiful, but not forced upon the viewer in an overbearing way. The weather was a bit too emphasized in my opinion, but fitting in their themes. There were also some good quotes and humour sprinkled throughout the length of the film.
I would strongly advise against watching this film as it's the only one I've ever seen in theaters that made me so badly want to leave. If it wasn't for my girlfriend beside me, and the two elderly ladies blocking us in, I would have been out of there with an hour left on screen. At least it was on half price movie night.