Saturday, 15 August 2015

A Review of 'Beyond the Mask'





This is my original movie review UPDATED 
based upon my seeing the film a second time.

        Two weeks ago I was invited to screen the upcoming film, Beyond the Mask, before it is released in Canadian theaters on August 14th.  An independent Christian action-adventure drama, it is the second feature film to be produced by Burns Family Studios.  It has now been released nation-wide in over 100 theaters, and I saw the film again last night.  Below are some of my thoughts from both the times of viewing the film.

        First, from a purely film-makers perspective, the whole film was extremely well done.  Almost all of the scenes flowed very well in telling the story; the action sequences were not overdone, as can be the case, being very nicely balanced with the calmer and more tender scenes.  The costuming was quite remarkable, being something which added so much to the film; it was so beautiful.  I have heard from friends of friends who worked on the film about how much time and effort was put into the production, and I must say that it paid off.


       The casting was superb as well.  John Rhys-Davies did an admirable job as the villainous Charles Kemp; Andrew Cheney portrayed Will Reynolds, assassin-become-hero, to a perfection; while the beautiful Kara Killmer captivated as Charlotte Holloway.  I congratulate all the actors for their fine jobs in creating the characters in this film.


        The story itself was brilliant. As the official synopsis says: "The leading mercenary for the British East India Company, Will Reynolds has just been double-crossed and now is on the run in the American Colonies. Working to redeem his name and win back the affections of the woman with whom he's never been fully truthful, Will now hides behind a new mask in hopes of thwarting his former employer. As his past life closes in on him, Will must somehow gain the trust and the help of his beloved Charlotte - as well as Ben Franklin - while he races against time to defuse a plot of historical proportions."  If you think that sounds like a fascinating plot, you'll not for a moment doubt it when seeing the movie in its entirety.  No more to say there - you'll have to go watch the movie!

        The only thing which slightly bothered me the first time I saw the movie was a bit of the first act.  After the introduction to the main characters, I felt that a couple scenes were rather awkward, in terms of not flowing as well as I expected.  But on my second time watching the film, it all made much more sense. Things that I had not noticed, or wondered why such and such a shot was in the film, came together just right.  Certain foreshadowing of what was going to happen was placed in just the right spot, and there were no loose plot lines to tie up at the end.  I was drawn entirely into the world of Beyond the Mask and was sitting on the edge of my seat till the very end!

        I would highly recommend this film - both to general audiences and film-makers.  There is much we can learn from this film, in terms of history, faith, and film-making.  The Gospel comes through clearly and succinctly, but not so that this movie is a sermon, but an adventurous drama following the life of one who seeks to be forgiven and made new.  This is indeed a tremendous step forward, and a great victory in the Christian film world.  As a friend of mine said: "As I see it, Beyond the Mask is professional quality on a technical level--acting, dialogue, story, effects, you name it. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! But this is a victory; this is a testament to the fact that there are indie Christian filmmakers who are coming of age. Let's not be shamed into pretending otherwise."
        I would rate it a solid 5/5.  It is one of the best films I have seen in a long time - and so much better than many others.  I really loved it, and enjoyed it thoroughly. My family came out of the theater saying we have to see it again.  But my last word is: Go find a theater - or now a DVD - and watch it, learning and remembering the story of grace, redemption, and true freedom.

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All pictures courtesy www.beyondthemask.com/videos

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