SUPERMAN LIVES: LOOK TO THE SKY
Superheroes needn't be faster than bullets or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Tampa filmmaker Brett Culp believes all that anyone needs to be a superhero is recognizing their own powers and putting them to work.
Merely mortal children can do it, which is the point of Culp's documentary Look to the Sky, showing at 2 p.m. Saturday at Tampa Theatre.
Look to the Sky profiles 10 young people across the United States who when faced with adversity responded with courage that Superman would applaud. Culp is a comic book fan whose appreciation of the Man of Steel led to this project.
"When I grew up . . . Superman represented a certain ideal in the world, the best of us," Culp, 40, said by phone. "We're living in an era when it's hard for any of us to embrace that side of ourselves these days. It's very hard for us to believe this idealistic Superman can be real in this world. But keeping that in your heart is the key to having hope."
The young subjects in whom Culp finds hope include a dancer whose knee was removed after cancer who reclaimed her art through a unique prosthetic; a homeless youth who turned around his life, earning a college football scholarship; a boy who rescued a drowning hiker in a Smoky Mountain stream and a girl who swam 26 hours across Lake Ontario raising money for a summer camp for children with cancer.
"Their experiences and what they've gone through have exemplified the spirit of Superman," Culp said. "It's a wonderful variety of different backgrounds, heritages, different cultures of kids who've really shown that superhero spirit."
Look to the Sky is Culp's second uplifting documentary with a superhero theme. In 2013 at Tampa Theatre, he premiered Legends of the Knight, drawing parallels between everyday heroes and Batman.
Now one-third of the way through the Justice League's lineup, Culp laughed when asked if he's planning a series.
"No, I think this is my last superhero movie," he said. "The next one in the queue is called The Voice That Carries, exploring the relationship between fathers and daughters."
Which doesn't entirely eliminate Wonder Woman, does it?
SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE
They're tiny, blue and irritatingly happy, but those Smurfs have a terrific agent.
There's no other way to explain the existence of Smurfs: The Lost Village (PG), the third chapter in a thin saga after the second one flopped. I'm pulling for Gargamel this time.
The Lost Village is where a mysterious map sends Smurfette (voice of Demi Lovato) and three other talking squeeze toys. There they will discover "the biggest secret in Smurf history" that I'm guessing is a class-action paternity suit against Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin). Even the Smurf voiced by Joe Manganiello is his spitting image.
Other celebrity voices on board include Ariel Winter, Rainn Wilson, Ellie Kemper, Jack McBrayer and anyone else on hiatus from shooting a TV series. Julia Roberts likely gets as many lines as Gordon Ramsay. With any luck, the Smurfs will lose their way back.
THE CASE FOR CHRIST
An atheist seeing the light makes The Case for Christ (PG), a faith-based drama with a premise that might interest secular audiences.
Mike Vogel stars as journalist Lee Strobel, whose book the movie is based upon. After his wife's (Erika Christensen, left) sudden turn to Christianity, a concerned Lee vows to prove religion is a scam. But his investigation brings a new perspective to this nonbeliever. The supporting cast includes recent Oscars mix-upper Faye Dunaway, always solid Robert Forster and Frankie Faison.
The Case for Christ opens Thursday in select theaters and Friday across Tampa Bay.
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 Get Out: Jordan Peele makes race relations scarier than ever with bold horror satire.
3 Life: Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds do the Alien routine with a great ending.
4 John Wick Chapter 2: Keanu Reeves is a 21st century Chuck Norris.
5 The Last Word: Shirley MacLaine makes the most of a late, plum role.
(Dates subject to change)
April 12: Gifted
April 14: The Fate of the Furious
April 21: Free Fire; The Lost City of Z; Unforgettable
April 28: The Circle; How to Be a Latin Lover
May 5: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
May 12: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword; Snatched; Lowriders