Thursday, April 2, 2015

Movie Review: Shadow on the Mesa with Kevin Sorbo, Meredith Baxter, and Wes Brown ~ 2013

When I first saw Shadow on the Mesa last Thanksgiving it immediately somersaulted to join my top ten favorite movies and from a member of those top ten it promptly rose to the prestigious top three. It’s now my favorite movie of all time—a position I used to think would never be decided on!

To date I’ve seen it five times, but when deciding to write this review I promptly found myself in a quandary. If North & South leaves me searching for words this is worse (though in a different way).

Since it’s new and little known, I’m including a brief summary of my own (paraphrasing the official one): Wes Rawlins’s life is forever changed when he returns home to find his mother has been brutally murdered and the men guilty are still at large. Thinking his long-lost father, Ray Eastman, may be responsible, Wes (a well-known bounty hunter) sets out to find him, bent on confrontation and justice. Finding his father, he promptly finds himself also in the thick of a territorial land fight. As Wes stays to help defend his father’s homestead, danger dogs his heels—the heat intensifying even as he’s drawing close to the family he’s never known. 

There are multiple reasons why it’s near and dear to me, but one huge reason is because (though the plots are quite different) it came at exactly the right moment to marvelously upend my current writing project, On David’s Shoulders.

And it’s a western—a western with themes of justice and “found” family. The casting is outstanding, and those family ties and relationships (between father/son, father/daughter, and sibling/sibling) are done beautifully and superbly.

With the premise of his father’s two marriages, I wasn’t sure how they were going to handle the meeting of the newfound, grown siblings (especially the unknown brother-sister thing), but they did extremely well—catching all the awkwardness and portraying it realistically while at the same time keeping it completely free of any “I’ve-just-been-wading-in-something-terrible” feel. Also, with the bad guys being led by another family (a father and his two sons) there’s fuel for fantastic depth and contrast.

As far as objectionable content: it’s not extremely bloody, but there is a lot of shooting and killing throughout, along with some mature themes (particularly involving a discontented woman) so, though there aren’t any remotely inappropriate scenes, I definitely don’t recommend it for younger family members. 

As the story unfolds, the plot quickly bends from what you might expect in the opening scenes. As my father said, “I thought it was going to be one of those Hallmark movies—(nothing wrong with those, of course)—but it was action.” 

Every single one of my family members who have seen it enjoy it: my mother and sisters heartily concurring in my sentiments while my brother has watched it with me four out of the five times (one of his highest marks of approval)!

In the end, it blows you away with the feel of all good story—the hungry desire for more while giving also the deep, hearty—lasting—satisfaction of a wonderful story well and truly told.


  1. This sounds really good, Heidi! My sister actually found the entire movie on YouTube so we plan on watching it. :) Thanks for the share!

    1. Sarah,
      Hooray -- and you're welcome! I do hope you enjoy it.... and I'll be looking forward to hearing if you do! ;)

  2. Yay! You reviewed it!
    This movie sounds soooo good. I'll have to ask my parents if we can try it sometime.
    It sounds so exciting--action wise AND emotion-wise. :) And, I have to say, Wes is very handsome. ;) He looks like a great hero.

    1. Natalie,
      Yay! And very much so. I still can't believe I did it!!! ;)
      It is SO good, action and emotion wise. And yes, that hero bit is definitely a primary factor in what's getting this book written (week after week)! ;)

    2. Yay! I'm so glad it helps motivate you. I'm so excited for your book! :)

  3. Whenever someone I admire says something is their 'very favorite', I always perk up. It must be good! :-)

    I've never heard of this movie, though I'm not surprised since I'm not really up on new things. But wow, it looks like a good one! I'm definitely interested. (Plus, it's a western, so....yeah.) Thanks for the review!

    And it took me several agonizing minutes to figure out where I recognize Wes Brown from...I finally remembered he was in the prequels to the Love Comes Softly movies. ;-P


    1. Emma,
      Oh, good! I realized I actually didn't use many exclamation points throughout (somehow it's like I love it too much for that.... ;)), but oh yes, yes indeed!

      And the western? (Now there's something I realized I haven't talked about much so far. We shall have to remedy that! ;P)

      Yes, I've actually only seen Wes Brown in one of the prequels, Love Begins, which I like well enough. The parts in there that aren't super favorites of mine don't have anything to do with him (he's just fine), but I do think he developed quite a bit over the couple years in between (or the part fit better) because he's amazing in here. ;) I hope you can see it soon!

    2. Oh, I know what you mean: sometimes, it almost feels shallow to be so enthusiastic over something you love SO much. That's how I feel about the Hornblower movies. I just....I can't. Gaah. ;-P

      I liked the Love Comes Softly series well enough before they starting changing all the actors and going nuts with all the prequels and all that. I'm afraid I'm terrible about poking fun at them. ;-P

      I shall definitely try to find this!

  4. Okay! I finally have time to sit down and read this, now that I've seen the movie. I totally agree with your dad that it started out kind of like a "typical Hallmark movie," and then veered into Real Western territory :-) Although I was mildly confused by why Wes jumped to the conclusion that his birth father might have been responsible for his mother's death, I think when I rewatch it, it'll be clearer :-)

    I really liked all the actors and actresses, and it was such fun to see both Kevin Sorbo and Meredith Baxter in something new.

    1. Hamlette!
      Yay! ;)

      *Spoilers* And yes, I think they all thought at first that his birth father might be guilty because (at that point) they didn't know why he'd never showed up (then -- and also all through Wes's growing up). Wes's mother was really the only one who knew what kind of man he had been. So they think he got her letter and (because he'd gone on with his life) had to then erase his past (to avoid scandal, etc). So far as Wes and the other two were concerned, there wasn't really anyone else besides his father who would be remotely interested in her fate. *End of Spoilers* Did that make sense?

    2. Yes, that does make sense. The timing of the letter and then the death does make it sketchy. Just felt a little off to me to have him going, "My dad is alive? He must have killed my mom!" -- like it was just paced too quickly or something. Again, I'm simply going to have to watch it again, because that second viewing is usually so important.


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