After Paul had completed many full years of missionary work across the continents of Asia and Europe and after carrying the Gospel of Jesus Christ to thousands of people, both Jews and Gentiles, he appealed to stand trial in Rome before Caesar, but this decision only caused him to suffer further for the cause of Christ at the hands of cruel Romans. With the church in Rome on the brink of total annihilation, Priscilla and Aquila house many wanted Christians in their home, and Luke is sent to tend to Paul in prison. As many Christians begin to question the words of Christ, Luke begs Paul for a fresh word to strengthen the church in her dark times, yet Paul is plagued by his thorn in the flesh–namely the lives of all he killed while he was a religious zealot. With darkness seeming to close in on Christ’s people, the story of Paul’s life carries the same message that saved all followers of the Way: where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.
Production Quality (2.5 points)
Gone are the days when ‘Bible plays’ like The Book of Esther are socially acceptable as Christian films. We are in a new era of Christian productions, and Paul, Apostle of Christ is another hallmark of this era. Similar to recent Biblical depictions, such as Risen, this new look at Paul’s life is gritty and authentic and has no fear of being painfully realistic. This is evident in the excellent and historically authentic sets, locations, and props. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are also what a professional production should be. The soundtrack is very engaging and thought-provoking, and the editing is quite creative and effective in presenting the story. The only drawback to this production is a collection of very dark scenes that may be realistic but do not make for great viewing. Nevertheless, this is a top-notch production that we should see over and over again in Christian films.
Plot and Storyline Quality (2.5 points)
While most standard Biblical plot fare is very flat, face-value, and vanilla, Paul, Apostle of Christ rejects this mold and upends the Biblical genre once and for all. By inserting extremely creative and well-crafted psychological elements into the core of this storyline, Andrew Hyatt and his team have created a point of no return for films based on Biblical events. Much like their work in Full of Grace, which showed the potential they have always had, their portrayal of Paul’s thorn in the flesh and the trauma he went through in his life is revolutionary in this genre. This is exactly what needs to be done to show the humanness of Biblical characters through the exquisite use of effective flashbacks and through processes that demonstrate real motive. Elsewhere, dialogue is rich and meaningful, and the other subplots are intertwined very well as each character is very well-developed. Care is given to demonstrate great historical accuracy, and while there are some slightly slow scenes and areas that could have been fleshed out with further dialogue and flashbacks, this storyline is a breath of fresh air in a world of very poor Biblical screenwriting. To top things off, the ending sequence completes the film excellently and is well worth the wait. In short, this film is a job well done in nearly every area.
Acting Quality (2.5 points)
While there were a few missteps with cast members that are not entirely culturally authentic, they are trained to appear culturally authentic, which is leagues better than having a fully BRITISH cast. Elsewhere, there is plenty of culturally authentic casting to make this section great, and there is clearly a presence of professional acting coaching. There are very few errors to point out here, and costuming and makeup are also extremely realistic. In summary, there are many positive elements to point out in this breakout effort.
This film receives a full x-factor point for its effective use of poignant psychological elements as Paul, Apostle of Christ takes its rightful place among the greatest Christian films of our time. Andrew Hyatt and his team are clearly going places, and even though their sophomore effort was somewhat muted by the blockbuster release of I Can Only Imagine, Paul is a signal that a new force to be reckoned has finally arrived in Biblical films. It will be exciting to see what this team puts together next, but for now, we can enjoy this great movie.
Final Rating: 8.5 out of 10 points