As I’ve said before in my article, “Movies That Impacted My Life“, my feelings towards Christian-themed movies have always been mixed. This is because while I am a Christian, I am also passionate about the art of film and storytelling. Unfortunately, the Christian movie market tends to emphasize the message of Jesus Christ and/or Christian values without any apparent desire to render a cohesive, inspired, and worthwhile story. It usually just becomes ham-fisted agenda pushing as a result.
I am afraid that Christian movies will be this way indefinitely because the majority of the Christian market doesn’t care about acting, cinematography, and inspiration in movies like I do and simply want a story that reaffirms their belief in Christ or Christianity.
With that in mind, I went to go see Risen today, and I thought it was a decent movie. The majority of the performances were pretty good, the dialogue was adequate, and best of all, the story didn’t desolve into agenda-pushing.
The lead character (played by Joseph Fiennes) is a Roman “Tribune” who, on top of being the lapdog of Pontius Pilate, is a talented soldier in charge of finding the missing body of Jesus Christ. This may be one of the benefits of this movie: it is a Christian-themed film told through the eyes of someone who has no interest in being a Christian; it may be the primary reason the movie didn’t seem preachy.
While this film really doesn’t have very many recognizable faces, there is enough talent in the cast to keep the story going. The only person that did show up that actually made me happy was the aide that is assigned to the lead protagonist. I was like, “Ha! That’s Draco Malfoy”.
The person who they picked to play Jesus is also somewhat recognizable (Cliff Curtis). I should note that, unlike most movies that have Jesus as a character, he actually looks middle-eastern. I’m only noting this because I know that this is a quip made by a whole lot of people who think that Jesus shouldn’t look white in films. Well, then you will like this movie all the more because they got a dude from New Zealand to play Jesus.
Even though the movie was good overall, there was never a point where I thought it was exceptional. As acceptable as our lead protagonist’s performance was, I spent the entire time wanting to see him with more passion for something. There really isn’t very much that the guy does wrong performance-wise, but I will not remember “Clavius” as a character because he is not worth remembering. I wish the script was capable of demanding a better performance from anyone in this movie. Everyone from Clavius to Pilate to Bartholomew to Jesus, with the exception of a few side characters who were not good actors, were alright; none of the characters ever pulled a strong performance.
However, the positives in this movie certainly outweigh the negatives. I thought the movie was acceptable enough to watch, was compelling sometimes, and some of the humor was funny enough for an audible chuckle. If you’re part of the Christian demographic, then this movie will no doubt be a good watch. If you’re not a Christian and want to see a Christian-themed movie that doesn’t beat you over the head with a bible, then this movie is also a good choice. As far as Christian movies go in general, Risen certainly is a valid option, and I’m giving this movie a 6 out of 10.