Risen - Review

The idea of Risen immediately captured my attention, seeming to ditch the flashy CGI heavy Bible movie trope and go with a more human story. However, I was left disappointed by its bland characters and boring narrative. 

Plot

As a Christian, I already have an idea of how I think the story would have played out, but my main issue with Risen is in its acting and storytelling. Risen begins at the time of Jesus crucifixion, followed by the manhunt for who the Romans think took his body from the tomb. The plot starts off fairly simple, but then evolves into a story of how Jesus changed the lives of the people around him, which is just too big a story to spend only the last 45 minutes on. If Risen had begun as a story of how Jesus touched the Roman Clavius (played by Joseph Fiennes), perhaps it could have spent more time elaborating on the disciples and Jesus himself. Instead, Risen splits its plot into two parts: Before Clavius knew Jesus, and after he knew him. This split results in a half baked story that doesn’t do justice to the source material.

Performances

The biggest let down in Risen is in its acting. Joseph Fiennes turns in a completely wooden performance as Clavius the Roman soldier, which is incredibly disappointing, as he held the most promise. The rest of the cast is hardly worth mentioning, as they all fall victim to typical Bible - movie stereotypes. The funny/screwball apostle? Check. The overbearing and comically villainous King? Check. The list goes on, with the biggest mistake being that none of the side characters are at all memorable. While I understand the virtue of not wanting to mess with the Bible, the entire idea for the movie is a big what if?, so it doesn’t seem all that unreasonable to add in a few extra scenes with different apostles. 

Style

Risen opts for a similar aesthetic to other Bible movies, more closely resembling 2014’s Exodus: Gods and Kings. The film wisely goes for a more human story, leaving out any flashy special effects. Coming in at around an hour and 45 minutes long, Risen tends to drag, especially during the scenes before the encounter with Jesus.

Summary

Risen attempts to tell a human story in the midst of Holy events, and unfortunately collapses under the weight of its initial idea. 

Pros- great idea, good source material

Cons- boring, poor acting from Joseph Fiennes