Tag Archives: christian film

Beyond the Mask

Interested in swashbuckling adventure that is suitable for a family audience that is friendly to a Christian worldview? Frankly, it is difficult to find much coming out of Hollywood that fits that description. I am no movie critic, but I am encouraged when I see creative efforts to break out of the Hollywood mainstream in independent film making that try to tell a good story that touches on the themes of the Gospel. The more people support these type of films, the more chances you will see better films made in the future.

Beyond the Mask is a new movie that is part-action adventure, part-history lesson, part-patriotic plug, and part-Gospel centered. Set during the era at the beginning of the American Revolution, a resourceful young man who finds himself enmeshed in the dark underworld of corrupt, crony capitalism is seeking redemption to restore the goodness of his name, but who ends up discovering romance, the spirit of American liberty, and a relationship with Jesus Christ in the process. You can think of it as Tom Cruise with special effects and lots of fights between the good guys and the bad guys.

Sure, a film from an alternative studio like this will not have the latest, super-expensive Star Wars effects, but I was actually surprised and pleased at how good they were. Critics complain that such films are nothing more than evangelical propaganda, but these days, it really is almost impossible to find any film that is not propagandistic in some form or another. The question is: what message are these movies promoting?

True, some might find the swashbuckling a bit too much for very young audiences, and the storyline does comes off as a bit predictable and fantastic in places (a Guy Fawkes plot using an invention by Benjamin Franklin with anachronistic bombing technology??). But hey, the film is great fun, and you do not have to worry about some anti-Christian agenda undermining what you are trying to teach your kids. Much like last year’s historical fiction Alone Yet Not Alone, Beyond the Mask is a fun story that will also hopefully inspire a young generation to gain a better appreciation for history. Forget Left Behind and go for this film instead. My wife and I went to the see the film last week as part of a Williamsburg, Virginia homeschooling community effort to bring in Christian film to local movie theatres, and we had a great time.

Produced by Burns Family Studios, essentially an outfit run by evangelical homeschoolers, Beyond the Mask was written by Paul McCusker, a creative writer behind Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey (see this review). This Patheos film blog review by Kenneth Moreland I found helpful and this interview with the Burns family.

Showing in the Williamsburg area (Newport News) at the Kiln Creek Cinema 20 for one week beginning June 5.

Alone Yet Not Alone, Limited Release

Alone Yet Not Alone is an independent Christian film being released in theaters on June 13, 2014 for a limited run.  Originally released in 2013, the film became controversial due to an Oscar nomination for best original song, sung by Joni Eareckson Tada, that was later rescinded.

Alone Yet Not Alone is based on a novel of the same name written by Tracy Leininger Craven. It is based on the true story about a pair of Craven’s ancestors, German immigrant girls who were captured at the Penn’s Creek Massacre of 1755 by Delaware native Americans during the French and Indian War.  Of the few reviews that I have found, one from the Dove Foundation was a  very positive complimentary review, while the other was very much less receptive,  like this second-hand one from a fairly disillusioned, former Christian reconstructionist home schooler.

The film was a fairly low-budget project, put together outside of Hollywood, which partly explains the very low exposure to theaters nationwide. A lot of great films never make it to the top of the popular culture radar because they lack the budget.  Part of the movie was filmed in Williamsburg, Virginia (check out the shot of Jamestown in the trailer below). Even if the film turns out to be less than spectacular for movie goers, I still think that it is important for Christians to support movies with Christian themes in movie theaters.  Otherwise, you are pretty much stuck with a lot of the relatively uninspiring entertainment we mostly have now. Movie theaters are coin-operated entities, so if the demand for good Christian films is high enough, it will encourage the production of more professional (larger budget), higher quality films with biblically-faithful themes.

If you are interested in supporting these type of Christian films, the best way to show your support and get the film release on June 13 at a theatre near you, you should consult sites like these to reserve tickets.

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