Film Review by Kam Williams
Biblical Epic Revisits the Resurrection from the Perspective of a Non-Believer
A fundamental tenet of Christianity is the belief that Jesus rose from the dead three days after being crucified. And His Resurrection is celebrated each spring on the holy day known as Easter.
Directed by Kevin Reynolds (Waterworld), Risen is a New Testament epic which revisits that miraculous event from a novel perspective, that of Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a Roman military commander instructed by Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) to burn Christ’s body to prevent his returning to life as predicted.
But lo and behold, Clavius finds the boulder rolled away from the front of an already empty tomb. So, he accuses Jesus’ disciples of stealing the body from the sepulchre, and demands it be reinterred in the Golgotha graveyard before the high priest “Caiphus and his pack of raving Jews show up.”
When apostle Peter (Stewart Scudamore) shrugs his shoulders, the Roman soldiers start digging up corpses in Calvary’s Hebrew cemetery to squash the rumor circulating that Christ really was the Messiah. Of course, that effort would prove to be an exercise in futility, as would interrogations of Mary Magdalene (Maria Botto), Simon (Joe Manjon) and other apostles.
Ultimately, a funny thing happens to Clavius by the end of his search. For, if Jesus truly is God, then His ascension to Heaven leads the skeptical investigator to the logical conclusion that eternal life is a possibility for everyone.
Risen is a visually-captivating Biblical drama harking back to such faith-based classics as Ben Hur (1959) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). Between mob scenes and muted sackcloth costumes, this proselytizing parable persuasively delivers its underlying Easter message designed to convert heathens while simultaneously preaching to the Evangelical choir.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence and disturbing images .
Running time: 107 minutes
Studio: Affirm Films
Distributor: Sony Pictures