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One of the most discussed, and often debated, subjects over the history of time is whether or not there is indeed a god. And assuming there is a god, which religion got it right? Due to this age-old hot button debate there have been many movies released on television and in theaters exploring different angles of religion. One of the most popular religion movies of all time is The Ten Commandments (1956). That story dealt with more of God, the Father rather than his son, Jesus Christ. The Passion of the Christ (2004), one of the more popular recent religious movies, is somewhat built on the controversy due to, in part, the sheer brutality depicted as well as some of the actions said to have occurred in Jesus’ life. Director Kevin Reynolds (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Waterworld (1995)) chooses a less abrasive approach in his retelling of the story of God’s only son in Risen.
Risen tells the story of Jesus (or Yeshua in this case) during the final hours of his crucifixion and the miraculous events that were to follow. The sort of twist here is that Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a Roman centurion, is tasked by Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) to get to the bottom of this crazy savior talk that has the Jews up in arms. After Yeshua (Cliff Curtis) expires on the cross, his body is taken and sealed inside a guarded tomb. His body later vanishes and the search to find this missing Messiah is full steam ahead. Clavius, with his soldiers behind him as well as a newly assigned lieutenant named Lucius (Tom Felton), leave no stone unturned as they dig up every body they can find in the hopes of finding this missing Yeshua. Clavius is not prepared for what his investigation reveals.
Various religions around the world see the story of Christ differently, although there are many similarities. For some, Risen will be absolutely a tale of fiction, for others it’ll be seen as a movie where they “got it all wrong”. Then there will be those that see this as the words of the Bible which have lept onto the screen for all to see. This particular story employs a somewhat unique strategy but telling the story through the eyes of a non-believer. Watching how things unfold should allow audiences to form their own opinions. While Kevin Reynolds appears to have a clear agenda, he does not alienate viewers that might not buy into his version of how things play out. Keeping on Reynolds for a moment, he wisely chooses to lighten the mood with the occasional humorous moment. Unfortunately that ploy alone isn’t enough to save from dull moments that occurred more often than one would hope for.
As much as Risen attempts to entertain and inspire the masses, it comes up short in both areas. Admittedly there’s only so much creative originality one can use when retelling this story as most are very familiar with where things are going. Still, knowing that should bring on a greater urgency to entertain audiences. The acting is decent but nothing stands out across the board. The casting is also a little suspect which also hinders any chances of spectacular performances. Risen will be one of those fast forgotten movies with good intentions that failed to find a way to separate itself from the pack. Still, it’s been awhile since a movie focusing on Yeshua (Jesus in case you already forgot) has been released so it still has a chance to bring some mild interest from the proper fan base.

Risen is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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