BIG PRODUCTION DESIGN BUT SLOW MOVING AND LACKING IN ACTION SEQUENCES, BUT THE PERFORMANCES BY JOSEPH FIENNES, TOM FELTON, AND PETER FIRTH KEEP THIS FAITH BASED EPIC AFLOAT!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B- (3 stars)
Joseph Fiennes as Clavius in Risen
From writer and director, Kevin Reynolds (Red Dawn, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Waterworld) comes the latest film in his writing and directing career, Risen, a faith based epic drama based on the Bible story about the first 40 days of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now let me make something perfectly clear, I’m not going religious on anyone, this is just me sharing my overall thoughts on a movie that happens to revolve around it, so as always I’m judging how it holds up as a movie rather than a representation of the Bible.
When I saw the trailers for this movie, I thought it looked pretty cool, a Biblical epic that’s much less cruel than Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ and less ridiculous than Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, I am aware of the second coming of Christ and the many stories written about it, but I’m not very knowledgeable on these religious topics, nor am I that religious.
Nothing personal and no disrespect, I have nothing against people’s religion, me personally I just don’t have much interest in it. So I came into this movie with very little knowledge of what I was getting into, aside from trailers and TV commercials, and…it was okay, not a great film but it’s not terrible, it’s about the same as what I thought of Kevin Reynolds’ 1991, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves movie that starred Kevin Costner, adequate and serviceable.
I’m not the right person to ask if this is a proper representation of the original Bible story, but I can definitely claim that it’s much closer to capturing the spirit of the Bible than Noah, Rock Giants, seriously? Anyway, it doesn’t focus on gory bloodshed like Passion of the Christ, nor does it really focus on the action sequences for that long, but the focus is where it should be, the main characters and their journey to uncover the truth behind Jesus’ second coming.
Set during the first forty days of Christ’s resurrection, the film follows, Clavius (Joseph Fiennes-Elizabeth, Shakespeare in Love, American Horror Story: Asylum), a powerful Roman Centurion being charged by prefect, Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth-Amistad, Mighty Joe Young, Pearl Harbor) to investigate the rumors of a risen Jewish messiah and locate the missing body of Yeshua to put an end to Jerusalem’s uprising. During Clavius’ journey his doubts of the supernatural occurrence peel away he encounters numerous historical bible characters such as the Apostles as his quest that will lead him to a man who came back to the living world.
Overall, Risen is a decent movie for what it is, just don’t expect heavy amounts of clashing, arrows, and torture. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all there but it’s very minimum and might throw some people off who are expecting a Lord of the Rings or Braveheart style biblical epic.
The film is very dialogue heavy and a lot of it feels like filler just to pass the two-hour mark. I felt they should have replaced some of the dialogue heavy filler with a few more action scenes.
But again, what makes the film shine are the cast, Joseph Fiennes, who I don’t know much about makes a good Clavius, Tom Felton (Harry Potter franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) as Lucius, Peter Firth as Pontius is great as well as intimidating, though I wish he had more screen time in the movie, and Cliff Curtis (The Piano, Training Day, Live Free or Die Hard) as our lord and savior himself, he’s no Jim Caviezel (Basically one of the only good things to come out of Passion of the Christ!), but he portrays Jesus Christ pretty well.
Also the cinematography and production design is beautiful, the way it’s filed and how everything is built up makes it feel monumentally epic on the big screen, and it almost feels like you’ve traveled back in time. But again, could have used some gory violence in this film.
If you just want a substitution for the overly violent Passion of the Christ or absolutely ridiculous Noah, you might find Risen tolerable, but if you want a pitch perfect representation of the story, this movie may not “Rise” to your expectations.