Beyond the Mask movie full length review - Delightfully Filmed and Acted - But...
March 19, 2015 Beyond the Mask Critique by Matthew Phillips
Having watched every video provided to me as a Theater Captain, I felt my take on Beyond the Mask both as a movie and a medium for communicating the Gospel message very sound and my gitty enthusiasm warranted.
So, you might understand, how elated I was to be given an opportunity to view the full movie one time on Monday, March 16, 2015. I really felt privileged and honored to be given this consideration.
My expectations caused me to view the movie with great anticipation and hopefulness. I admit to a measured bias going into it. The previews and interviews and behind the scenes videos all depicted a professional, high definition adventure that would leave me wanting more and more.
The acting in Beyond the Mask left nothing to search for anywhere in Hollywood. The actors were believable and exquisitely competent. That combined with the fantastic computer graphics and cinematography set me in the time and circumstance of the late 1770's. A visual treat, spectacularly done lead me to a feast of color and a smorgasbord of action and romance that my senses embraced with tremendous pleasure.
At the end of the day though, a movie must tell a story. The story provides the frame on which all the other components rest and find their adhesion. It was here, at the telling of the story, that Beyond the Mask falls sharply from grace. Both in continuity and character development, Beyond the Mask left me with too many questions. I felt the writers expected me to know the answer to these questions so they purposefully left out the background information I needed to put the pieces together.
Remove only a few bones from the skeleton of a body and though still filled with muscle and covered with skin, that body will slump and sag at wherever point the removed bones no longer support its area. So it is with Beyond the Mask. It drops from moments of brilliance to lows of mediocrity like a ship being tossed on a tumultuous sea of infacility. To meet its potential both writing and directing needed to rise to its height. Unfortunately, neither met the challenge with complete success.
To ask the Christian Community to support and refer this film in its current condition seems a bit like a congregation being asked to keep a pastor because he's the cousin of the head deacon. Even though he fails in visitation, reads his sermons and drowns people in the baptismal, the congregation must support and refer him to others. OK, that's a bit unfair. But, you get the point. We're being asked to support fantastic CGI and superb acting absent equally superb and excellent storytelling simply because its Christian based. We, as Christians, must hold our highest praise and support for that which deserves it, not seeing either our loyalty to our brethren nor our need for excellence compromised in the giving of that praise and support.
Speaking of being Christian based. Beyond the Mask did present solid and believable episodic tangibility on the concepts of forgiveness and redemption. It truly moved me. However, at the one point where the opportunity arose to present the Gospel message with clarity and plausibility as the main character was forced to face his inability to achieve the change he so desired, the writers and director decided to let it pass without much attention. We, once again, find ourselves forced to know the Gospel message, its impact and residual effect once Jesus takes our name and give us His. I found myself unsettled by the lack of willingness to present the Gospel message with the whole movie designed to lead me to that one moment!
Beyond the Mask achieves a great deal in areas where other Christian movies fail. However, it undermines and insulates where other Christian movies succeed. With the characters better defined and the story more definitively told, Beyond the Mask would out achieve the best Hollywood has to offer. I am saddened to say - as presented - it falls short of that goal.