Risen [2016] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Clavius is a Roman tribune who has seen everything in battle and thinks he has encountered every type of first century person possible.  He is hardened by violence and gore and shows little emotion anymore.  Battle-wearied from dealing with zealots in the wild Roman province of Judea, the last thing Clavius wants to do is perform an extra task for Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea.  The task: make sure a Jewish rabbi named Yeshua dies so that His following disperses and things calm down in the area in time for the Emperor Tiberius’ arrival to the province.  Clavius expects his task to be open and shut, but what he finds instead is an experience that could change his life forever, as he encounters the mysterious followers of the even more mysterious Yeshua.

 

Production Quality (3 points)

So many times, bad production quality derails movies with great ideas, especially Bible movies.  Too many Bible movies give off a church play quality, but Risen takes this concept and obliterates it.  The sets, locations, props, and costuming are exquisitely authentic, which is often the first hurdle to clear for a first century narrative.  Next, it actually contains action scenes—very well crafted action scenes.  The first century surroundings are highly believable and gritty.  The video quality and sound quality are flawless.  The camera work positively enhances the film, including poignant camera angles.  A lot of Christian movies in general have a poor or vanilla musical score, but Risen uses music to bring the movie to life.  In summary, the production quality of Risen lives up to the marketing and delivers a movie to be proud of.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

The journey of Clavius is very linear and straightforward—if you know the Biblical narrative, you will not find any plot twists here.  However, plot twists are likely not the purpose of this movie.  Though the investigation is somewhat simplistic, the gospel message is very clear and is presented in a realistic way that can be accessed by all.  The characters are extremely authentic and the dialogue is witty.  Another common error in Biblical films is portraying Scriptural characters as inaccessible and ethereal; Risen does not fall into this trap.  Its characters alone make this plot stand alone from others in its genre.  The Peter character is likely the best portrayal to date.  Jesus’ adaptation is also very accessible for audiences everywhere.  Subtle humor is inserted into the plot that is appropriate for the historical time period and makes for a well-rounded viewing.  The only caveats to raise here are a minor plot hole, a time-filling action sequence, and the somewhat vague conclusions to the Roman political subplot.  But this small issues aside, Risen is a unique and creative take on Biblical and historical narratives, with accurate elements integrated throughout.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

The cast of Risen is obviously professional and very well coached.  Each actor and actress becomes and embodies their character excellently.  The line delivery is masterful and the emotions are felt.  The only negative element here is that Risen does fall into a common Bible movie trap by casting quite a few British actors.  The only thing that keeps Risen from being completely authentic is the presence of more obviously European actors than obviously Middle Eastern actors.  Otherwise, there are no acting or casting errors.

Conclusion

Risen receives half of an x-factor point for having a dynamic underlying worldview that drives the movie.  For once, this is a film that a Christian could take an unbeliever to in order to expose them to a clearly communicated and well packaged gospel message without being ashamed of low quality.  The problems with Risen are very minor and will not be enough to keep widespread audiences from seeing and enjoying this film.  A movie in the vein of Risen has been long overdue on the Christian scene and we at Box Office Revolution heartily anticipate more like it in the near future.

 

Final Rating: 8 out of 10 points

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7 thoughts on “Risen [2016] (Movie Review)

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  5. I was also at first skeptical about this movie but i was wrong! There have been to many silly and cheesy bible movies that have been made but this one was good!

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  6. I walked into the theater skeptical that this movie would be similar to the well-known The Bible series by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. In a word, sensational and unrealistic. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. As KC Approved said, the portrayals of Jesus and Peter are excellent. Unlike the writers of The Bible, these writers did not stray far from the actual Biblical accounts, which is refreshing. Another character portrayal that I liked was Joseph of Aramathea. In other movies he is simply mentioned but not developed as a character. In this one he was, which added to the originality of the film. I have already recommended this movie to friends and will continue to do so as it is something that a Christian can be proud of.

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  7. The production quality of this movie is certainly praiseworthy. From costumes, to sets, to props the creative team did an excellent job in making this movie feel both high quality and authentic. This film is an example to all Christian movie makers in this regard.

    The acting is also quite good as is the casting. Although some of the actors are distractingly British they are actually cast very well to fit their characters. I particularly loved the choices for Jesus and Simon Peter.

    My only criticism of the movie is that the latter third of the plot seems to lose direction. The portrayal of the events at the Sea of Galilee is powerful but I found myself wishing there was a little more to the story. I think one good subplot would have added a lot here as the story could have gone back and forth instead of mostly only following the main character.

    The fact that the movie can score this highly while only presenting one main, straightforward plot is a testament to the quality of production and acting which boosts its overall value. This film is a must see for Christian audiences and hopefully will be a turning point for Biblical movies everywhere.

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