Risen HD Digital Ultraviolet UV Code
The Movie Review by Andy McKinney
The faith community-that means most Americans-should and will embrace "Risen" and turn out to see it. It makes for a moving depiction of the journey from un-belief to belief. Non believers will want to see it for the precise details of period clothing, weapons and social organization. The producers and director Kevin Reynolds have made a near masterpiece of the religious genre.
In the story, Yeshua has been convicted and sentenced to death by Pilate. Clavius, a Roman tribune (what we might call a staff officer to a Roman Legion), fresh from a skirmish with Jewish rebels, has the task of overseeing the execution of Yeshua. He must ensure that nothing goes wrong with the Crucifixion of the supposed Jewish insurrectionist. He watches Jesus die.
Which makes things dicey for him and Pilate when the carefully secured tomb is found empty. We might well think of the following third of the film as an antique police procedural film. Clavius tries to find the body that he assumes has been hurried away by the disciples for purposes of religious or political propaganda. He must hurry, in the climate of Jerusalem the corpse will become unrecognizable within a few days.
There are many very fine touches in the craft of this film. When Jesus has a 'spear' thrust into his side while dead or dyeing on the cross, the Roman trooper uses a pilum, a Roman throwing weapon, which would be correct. When Clavius says a prayer to Mars, he phrases it in the way that pagans of the day would do, as a deal. He promises to do something for Mars if Mars does something for him. These small details implant the hall mark of all superior films and separate them from mere period fantasies like the gladiator films of the 50s.
Director Reynolds also wrote the script. He has directed such films as "Robin Hood Prince of Thieves", the immortal "Waterworld" and the quite fine and quite well reviewed tale of Easter Island "Rapa Nui". He wrote both "Rapa Nui" and the thriller "Red Dawn". First time writer Paul Aiello helped with the writing.
Reynolds cast a gaggle of lessor known but quite accomplished actors in the supporting roles. Peter Firth as the ambitious but fearful and unscrupulous Pilate with his 93 credits might seem familiar. Tom Felton, late of the "Harry Potter" films as Draco Melfor plays Lucius, the eager young aid to the tribune. Cliff Roberts, 51 credits and also somewhat familiar, plays Christ. Only in the movies can we find a New Zealand Maori (Roberts) playing the Jewish Messiah in an American movie filmed in Spain and Malta. You gotta love that.
Clavius, the tribune at the center of the film, as Joseph Fiennes to inhabit his character. Joseph Fiennes also played the lead in "Shakespeare in Love" and in many other roles both large and small. This might well be his best portrayal ever. Clavius is a hard bitten soldier sent to solve what he thinks is a grave robbing incident done for religious but more dangerously for political reasons. We go with him as he slowly comes to think that maybe his premise is wrong. Finally he confronts the once dead but now alive Yeshua, undeniable in the very flesh. At that moment, a moment familiar to Christians, he must reconcile the irreconcilable. How can the natural world meld with the super-natural world? How can man deal with the reality of Divinity? And right there does Joseph Fiennes the actor show the face of a man doing just exactly that, a rational man processing the impossible. I nearly wept at the intensity of that moment on film portrayed by that actor. It makes for a shocking and exhilarating moment.
This four halo movie lasts for one hour and 47 minutes while carrying a mild "PG-13" rating. The Crucifixion scene does have some disturbing images however so those under the recommend age might well stay away. The producers allowed $20 for the budget which the director Reynolds spent well. It opened on Friday at number two and finished out the week end with a gross of $12 million and settled into the number three spot. People are coming to see it.