Friday, February 26, 2016

Risen a New Faith-based Film

Risen New Movie by Kevin Reynolds



Risen New Faith-based film
Risen New Faith-based Movie
Nothing says cultural marginalization of Christians like the phrase “faith-based films.” The connotations: mediocre acting, directing and writing; cut-rate production values; and, most of all, niche product. When I went to see “Risen,” the freshly released New Testament movie from “Waterworld” director Kevin Reynolds, I sat through previews for “The Young Messiah” and “God’s Not Dead 2” (yes, there was a “God’s Not Dead” 1), and the latter at least looked as though it embodied what I mentioned about talent and budget. Yet with a nationwide release and at least one A-list star, “Risen” has performed reasonably well at the box office. It was the third-highest-grossing movie last weekend, when it opened, bringing in $11 million—a good showing for a project with a $20 million budget. That may be because Mr. Reynolds has—for the most part—avoided the melodramatic clichés that have marred many an overblown Jesus movie.

Furthermore, Mr. Reynolds has placed a distance between the passion narrative and the movie’s protagonist, Clavius ( Joseph Fiennes), a hardheaded and battle-weary Roman military tribune tasked by an exceptionally uneasy Pontius Pilate ( Peter Firth) with making sure that the dead Jesus, called Yeshua in the movie and played by Cliff Curtis, stays dead and that his body stays in his tomb. And after the body predictably disappears, Clavius must find it—or when that proves impossible, dig up a similar-looking crucified corpse. The movie manages to maintain the distance between the passion narrative and Clavius even after his door-to-door investigation brings him face to face with the risen Yeshua sitting with his disciples and showing his wounds to doubting Thomas.

... Mr. Reynolds could have skipped a resurrection scene that lights up Yeshua’s tomb with an exploding sunburst and an ascension into heaven that resembles the Bikini Atoll detonation. The director didn’t seem to trust his audience to take those seminal Christian events seriously unless he presented them with dogged literalness. That is too bad, because—no offense to the Son of God—the center of the movie isn’t Yeshua but Mr. Fiennes’s powerfully realized Clavius. At the movie’s end he wanders alone through the Judean desert, a liminal figure exiled from Roman society but unable to join with the disciples in preaching their gospel. He is a character who could have lifted the film out of the Christian-cinema ghetto to speak to a militantly secular world where faith seems not only impossible but risible. ...
read full WSJ article HERE
Also see new book Risen: The Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus HERE

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