Risen: Movie Review
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Picking up where The Passion of the Christ left off, Sony Pictures' Risen tells the fictional story of a high-ranking Roman tribune named Clavius in the historical context of Jesus' last days.
Starring Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love, Luther) and Tom Felton (Harry Potter series), Risen offers moviegoers a worthwhile cinema experience as it takes a unique look at the most-known story ever told. This Kevin Reynolds-directed project is one of the best "faith" films in years. Rated PG-13, it's also more family friendly than Mel Gibson's Passion.
THE MOVIE IN A MINUTE
Clavius (Fiennes) returns to Jerusalem in the middle of Passover and three crucifixions, a usual occurrence in the Roman-occupied holy city. But when the tribune approaches the latest messiah as he hangs, dying on a cross, something's quite different. Joseph of Arimathea entombs the body of One of the crucified, but it doesn't stay there for long. With the news of a risen messiah spreading like wildfire across Jerusalem, Pilate (Peter Firth) commands Clavis and his aide Lucius (Felton) to track down and produce the corpse of the man called Yeshua (Cliff Curtis). What Clavius finds on his search changes everything.
GOOD AND BAD IN RISEN
It's as if Fiennes was made for this role. He slips on the sandals and Roman military uniform easily, bringing a strength and conviction to the layered character of Clavius. His co-stars, Felton, Firth, and Curtis, all deliver strong performances. Curtis' Yeshua, though he's not seen on screen all that much, is captivating. He has this commanding presence, yet still a gentle quality about him.
This engaging story has its slower moments and some of the supporting actors' strong accents are distracting. Still, Risen is steps above other "faith" films in terms of quality and content. Though it's skirting a biblical epic, it's not all action-packed. It's a detective story with a mystery to solve. And it works.
Reynolds' nuanced take on best-selling author Anne Rice's book gives us so much to take in without loading up on dialogue or cliché moments. The story that unfolds is one extolling redemption, the grace even a tortured soul can obtain. It matches skepticism and doubt against faith and seeing the impossible become reality. Risen has the potential to pull in a varied audience, but it is also decidedly biblical (Yeshua performs a miracle and quotes scripture).
The Machinist composer Roque Baños' score for Risen is sweeping. The cinematography from Lorenzo Senatore is laudable, as are the film's costume and set designs. It's all top-notch.
This Columbia Pictures film is rated PG-13 for biblical violence including some disturbing images. Parents should proceed with caution. Risen is too much for younger audiences.
IN THE END
Jesus movies are more and more common these days. What sets Risen apart is the interesting angle at which it looks at God's gift to humankind. Through the eyes of a non-believer, we experience the revelation of Jesus' resurrection, as it must have felt centuries ago, as well as, the rebirth of Clavius. For that reason, and for its quality filmmaking, Risen is a movie to see – in theaters.
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