Movie Review: Risen with Joseph Fiennes

Risen-2016

Perhaps one of my favorite things about being a Christian Lifestyle writer is going to the movies. Granted, I go see all types of movies and they do not need to be about the Bible. My role as a lifestyle writer is to relate the moves in the theaters to the way we live our lives as Christians. It is my position to watch movies from a God world view.  Ironically, many atheists have bought the same critical eye to Risen, staring Joseph Fienness.

I have read a number of posts that would like to use the movie to discount the book of Acts.  The argument made is that if the book of Acts does not mention this hunt for the body of Jesus – a capital crime of the day, then perhaps there was no body at all.  So as a very inexperienced and still budding apologist I can only respond to this suggestion with two words: FICTIONAL ACCOUNT

I suppose a serious movie critic will take into account the historical context of the movie and how well the film captured the lifestyle and customs of the day, e.g., the Roman military maneuver in the opening scene.  For me, I’m not Roger Ebert, who gave the film 2.5/4.0 stars.  I’m just a movie goer who wants to see good, entertaining movies without having to cleanse myself and consecrate for three days to clear the images from my mind. Basically…anti reality TV mess.

Risen is a FICTIONAL ACCOUNT of the days following the crucifixion of Jesus. Sony pictures calls it “the epic Biblical story of the Resurrection, as told through the eyes of a non-believer. Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a powerful Roman military tribune, and his aide, Lucius (Tom Felton), are tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Jesus in the weeks following the crucifixion, in order to disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.”  It is a good story. After all, think about the Roman soldiers. What did they think about the empty tomb. Did they now believe? Not? Did they go mad?

It is a lighter biblical based story that even interjects humor at some points.  Clavius (Fiennes) accidentally cuts Peter (Stewart Scudamore) for sneaking up on him to bring him water. Peter, being true to the Biblical nature, gets an attitude with Clavius that continues throughout the movie in jest. Even reminding him at the end “You’ll always be with me” and pointing to the scar on his leg. The two share a laugh.  Another giggle aloud moment for me is when the soldiers are searching for Mary Magdalene because she is rumored to have seen Jesus after his death. Clavius goes into a crowd of men – think pub or locker room – and asks “Which of you knows the woman Mary Magdalene?”  The men look awkwardly around at each other before one by one slowly raising their hands. Clever.

I do not think the movie will have the broad appeal that it may being trying to garner. Though it starts off strong, the scenes started to drag at the end for me. Maybe because I know the Bible passages that accompany the story. I’m not sure.  It is marketed as a suspenseful mystery, but most of us know the story. Therefore, the mystery is seeing how the filmmakers will creatively bring this well-known story to life again. (No pun intended.)

risenWhat I liked:

1) Joseph Fiennes was excellent and believable. 2) Jesus was not blonde with blue eyes. 3) The story was light and humorous at points. 4) The portrayal of Peter was aligned with what we know about his personality from the Bible. 4) The story is told through the eyes of a nonbeliever.5) The authentic voices of those who witnessed Jesus and believed though they were still not sure of what they were witnessing. 6) The casting was well done for Hebrews and Romans. 7) Such a creative concept!

What could have been better:

1) The back half of the movie lacks the action and suspense of the first half as it navigates the disciples (and Clavius) waiting to see Jesus again. 2) The ascension of Jesus was corny and very Hollywood with the special effects and things.  It seemed out of place in the movie 3) The abrupt ending landed flat like they ran out of film.

I wanted to love this movie for obvious reasons. Christians are a huge segment of the lifestyle market and if you add in those who proclaim to be Christian it is even bigger. I want to see more movies that allow us to be entertained while living our values and belief systems. That’s what SHINE TYC is all about, right? I want more movies like Risen. So, while it was not worthy of a little gold man, it is certainly entertaining, well written and another chance for us to remember that Jesus died for everyone who believes in Him.

 

See the Trailer…

 

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