RISEN (USA/12A/107mins)
Directed by Kevin Reynolds. Starring Joseph Fiennes, Cliff Curtis, Tom Felton, María Botto, Andy Gathergood, Luis Cajello.
THE PLOT: Told through the eyes of a Roman Tribune (Joseph Fiennes), Risen is the story of how this loyal Roman leader became curious about the man named Yeshua (Cliff Curtis), and followed his disciples to find out more about the man who rose from the dead three days after being crucified.
THE VERDICT: There is an interesting piece of trivia about ‘Risen’ on the film’s IMDb page; in 2013, director of ‘Risen’, Kevin Reynolds, was attached to a project that was seen as the unofficial sequel to the 2004 film ‘The Passion of the Christ’. Well, having seen ‘Risen’, it seems that this is that film.
Joseph Fiennes leads the cast as the Roman Tribune, loyal to Pontius Pilate until seeing becomes believing. Thank god for Fiennes and his even if stoic performance, since he manages to shoulder much of the drama of the film. The trouble is that the film is badly written and drawn out, with an incredibly uncharismatic portrayal of Jesus and a band of disciples that are so happy with their faith that they come off as grinning simpletons. Cliff Curtis plays the monosyllabic Yeshua – that’s Jesus to you and me – and Tom Felton, María Botto, Andy Gathergood, Luis Cajello and Antonio Gill make up the rest of the cast.
The screenplay for ‘Risen’, written for the screen by Kevin Reynolds and Paul Aiello, hinges on an idea that is not a bad one in and of itself; the idea that a Roman soldier could be curious about the man crucified by Pontius Pilate, but the trouble is that the film is so filled with anachronistic colloquialisms, odd accents and uneven performances that this idea is stilted before it begins. Add to this some heavy-handed religious moments and a terribly slow pace, and Risen becomes dull and unengaging.
As director, Kevin Reynolds makes the film drawn out and dull, with the audience able to feel every second of the 107 minute running time. Add to this the fact that the film’s audience is obviously the engaged Christian one, and any fun, action or dramatic licence that could be taken with the characters is studiously ignored. Jesus becomes rather like a miracle working Jedi wandering through scenes in long shot and even though Joseph Fiennes is obviously a talented actor who brings some weight to the film, he is never allowed to be anything other than an observer, making his performance stoic and rather quiet.
In all, ‘Risen’ is a film directly aimed at those who will want to go and see it. Anyone curious about the Bible stories, looking for a way in or a good old fashioned epic along the lines of ‘Ben Hur’ or ‘The Ten Commandments’ are not going to find what they are looking for here. Fiennes tries his best, but with an uninteresting script and drawn out pacing, he is fighting a losing battle.
Review by Brogen Hayes

Review by Brogen Hayes
  • filmbuff2011

    Arriving just in time for Easter, Risen is a biblical story about the resurrection of Yeshua (His Hebrew name) or Jesus as we have come to know Him. However, it’s told from a more unusual perspective.

    33 A.D. Roman tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) is a witness to the crucifixion of the Nazarene Yeshua (Cliff Curtis). Observing His last moments on earth, Clavius feels something otherworldly about this man who has defied an empire and gathered followers like no other. Over the weekend we now know as Easter, he comes to question his own beliefs when the entombed body of Yeshua disappears without trace – seemingly, He walked straight out of there alive. Tasked by Prefect Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) to find the body before word gets out that it has disappeared, Clavius is joined by young soldier Lucius (Tom Felton). They must find the body otherwise rumours of a messiah walking the land anew will lead to uprising and incur the wrath of the Emperor in Rome. As Clavius digs deeper to find out the truth and talks to Mary Magdalene (Maria Botto), he comes to question his own beliefs and his own motivations in finding Yeshua…

    First off, Risen isn’t a bad film – at least to this reviewer anyway. It’s actually half-way decent and does a good job at building up the mystique surrounding Yeshua and his followers. All the film really requires from an audience is some faith. After all, this is a story for the ages and has some good messages about belief systems and questioning notions of divinity. The story takes the form of an investigation with some powerful revelations. Taking the story from the perspective of a non-believer like Clavius gives the film a more intriguing edge that it might not otherwise have had. The story arc of Clavius is quite transformative, from cynical soldier to a changed man. This is the film’s greatest strength and it benefits greatly from a solid performance from Fiennes and a quietly moving one from Curtis.

    Faith-based films are big business in America right now, but they don’t necessarily translate across the pond. Risen is thankfully not one of those films that seems to be aimed more at the American Bible Belt, leaving international audiences scratching their heads in confusion. It’s got decent production values, shot in Spain and Malta and has a mostly good cast. Though, some of the cast members seem to think that they’re in a Charlton Heston epic and adjust the pitch of their performances to the 1950s rather than the 21st Century, which can be jarring at times.

    Returning to the director’s chair for the first time since the Irish-shot Tristan + Isolde some 10 years ago, Kevin Reynolds captures the wonder and mystique of the resurrection as perceived through a more pragmatic mind. For an essentially religious film, Reynolds just about sidesteps the Sunday School sermon and instead delivers an intriguing alternative view. It’s no The Passion Of The Christ, but it’s no dud either. Risen manages to be acceptable and entertaining without being preachy and self-righteous. ***

  • Owen

    F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C!!!! The plot kept me guessing till the very end! Moviemakers spared no expenses to shot a great movie with a great ending! Im thankful to Zaretskiy that recommended me to watch RISEN that made me think about many things)))))