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Is it worth watching Idris Elba and Kate Winslet freeze in 'The Mountain Between Us'?

This image released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Kate Winslet, left, and Idris Elba in a scene from “The Mountain Between Us.”
Published Oct. 4, 2017

OPENING FRIDAY:

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

Ain't no mountain high enough, no plot valley deep enough, to keep Idris Elba and Kate Winslet from setting off romantic sparks in The Mountain Between Us (PG-13). But this movie surely doesn't do them any favors.

Based on Charles Martin's novel, The Mountain Between Us is movie star chemistry interrupted by a survival yarn without much danger. Even the dog is more indestructible than usual. Winslet and Elba handle hoo-hah like the pros they are, through an hour of clumsy dramatic foreplay then a passionate payoff.

Director Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now) wastes no time getting soapy. In a snowbound airport, Ben Bass (Elba) is a neuro­surgeon needing to reach Denver for a child's surgery and Alex Martin (Winslet) is a photojournalist going there for her wedding the next day.

Their only chance is hiring a private pilot (Beau Bridges) who doesn't file a flight plan then has a mid flight stroke. Somehow his dog, known only as Dog, avoids being sucked out when the plane's tail section is ripped away by a mountaintop. Alex survives the crash with a broken leg and facial bruises accenting her cheekbones. Ben gets a couple of broken ribs for prime torso exposure. Dog is fine.

No cell phone reception but the pilot left behind a lighter and flare gun. Ben and Alex decide to sit tight in the wreckage until they change their minds. Meanwhile, they get to know each other through lighter, more intrusive convos than the situation demands, or Alex rifling through luggage to find Ben's emotional baggage.

Ben climbs higher to get a better look and his big chance to die but doesn't, giving Alex down time with Dog and a cougar who doesn't appear hungry. Abu-Assad's staging of the cougar's "attack" amuses, first with off-camera sound effects while Alex cringes then its ambitiously cheap effect saving her. That's it for action until a bear trap snaps everyone awake.

Meanwhile, Elba and Winslet look marvelous against Rocky Mountain backdrops, decked out in fine winter wear, not exhaling mist as much as frigid conditions would suggest. A month into survival Alex and Ben finally peel off their parkas. Wouldn't you know, they make it back to civilization and Alex's fiance (Dermot Mulroney) the next day.

That's when The Mountain Between Us stops being a molehill survival tale and embraces its melodramatic potential, taking Winslet and Elba's chemistry to as many emotional extremes as possible in 20 minutes. The movie finds a perfect place to end and doesn't, finds another and declines again. The actors make such piling on easier to take. C

MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE

Unless those ponies transform into ginormous robots, Hasbro's cine-toy winning streak ends with My Little Pony: The Movie (PG). The power of friendship on television goes only so far at today's ticket prices.

Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie and Rarity are the Mane 6, sugary guardians of Equestria. The Mane 6 must defeat the grumpy Storm King (voice of Liev Schrei­ber), a satyr hoarding magic for mean reasons. His accomplice Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt) is a unicorn with a chip on her horn.

In a nice display of non-equestrian species diversity, Michael Pena, Taye Diggs and Zoe Saldana speak for a hedgehog, cat and parrot, respectively. Tagging along for the rainbow ride are Kristin Chenoweth and Uzo Aduba as new friends the ponies encounter along the way.

in theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1Blade Runner 2049: Ryan Gosling stars in a brilliant sequel to a sci-fi classic. Review, 12W

2Battle of the Sexes: Emma Stone and Steve Carell star as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

3Stronger: Jake Gyllenhaal plays a survivor of the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings.

4Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival: Friday's opening film at Tampa Theatre is free. Festival runs through Oct. 15.

5Victoria & Abdul: Judi Dench wins her Queen-off with Helen Mirren, 3-1.

UPCOMING RELEASES

(Dates subject to change)

Oct. 13: Marshall; The Foreigner; Happy Death Day; Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

Oct. 20: The Snowman; Geostorm; Only the Brave; Boo 2: A Madea Halloween; Same Kind of Different as Me

Oct. 27: The Florida Project; Suburbicon; Thank You for Your Service; Jigsaw

Nov. 3: Thor: Ragnarok; A Bad Moms Christmas; The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Nov. 10: Murder on the Orient Express; Wonderstruck; Daddy's Home 2

in theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

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