Witness The Resurrection in “Risen” (Movie Review)

Feb 19, 2016

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Risen (2016)
Sony Pictures
Directed by: Kevin Reynolds
Starring: Joesph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth

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The Good:

Joseph Fiennes was pretty good in this film. He really embraced the role of a traditional Roman Centurion soldier. I must admit, he was so convincing that I had the hardest time envisioning him portraying Michael Jackson in his new upcoming film. Fiennes’ character, ‘Clavius’, provides an interesting and unique perspective of the Gospel narrative. Typically the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is told through a narrator or one of the followers of Jesus. This time we’re given an agnostic look.

This different perspective, I think, helps make the story a bit more modern. The plot is told from a detective/mystery point of view. What’s great about that is that even if you’re familiar with the story, you’re still interested in how it develops over the course of the movie. Some of the investigative procedures taken in the story really help to ground the Gospel narrative in a more realistic sense.

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Another refreshing aspect of this film was the fact that the casting was not overly “Hollywoodized”. Many of the characters actually looked like they were from the Middle East or from Rome. The characters also attempted to have more authentic accents rather than simply resorting to English accents for all. What I particularly appreciated was that even the character of Jesus (appropriately named “Yeshua”) was not cast with some overly handsome, 20 year old, blond haired, and blue eyed actor. Without getting into any religious dogma, the Jesus of the Bible was never portrayed to be much of a “looker”, but more so just an average looking guy of the time.

The Bad:

Some of the pacing seemed a tad bit slow, so don’t make this a late night viewing. I’d probably say another weakness in this film is how the tone shifts gears halfway through the film. It goes from the detective adventure into a religious drama. So the uniqueness that originally brought in some unlikely viewers to this film quickly changes into an ever-so-familiar tone we’ve been accustomed to seeing. Also, outside of Fiennes, a lot of the acting performances simply weren’t that strong; whether that was due to a weak script or some other factor, it is hard to determine. But none of the other characters besides Clavius really leave you with a lasting impression.

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The Reason:

Overall, I think that people who are interested in Gospel narratives will be the ones who will want to watch this movie regardless of what even I have to say about it. It gets points for being a bit more original with its perspective. I was satisfied with the film and appreciated its attempt at trying to remain as authentic and respectful as possible. If I were to recommend seeing it, I’d say a matinee would be appropriate for this film or it would be a decent watch at home via Blu-Ray or VOD.

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