While Amy took the Best Documentary Oscar, the most fan favorite documentary (according to www.rotten tomatoes.com) is Embrace of the Serpent, which makes its South Florida debut on March 11. Mad Max Fury Road garnered the most awards for its well-deserved visual and technical feats, but it was Spotlight that earned the Best Original Screenplay, which led to Best Motion Picture Award.
While Chris Rock lampooned the lack of diversity for the Academy Awards, there is a box office success story that is being ignored by Hollywood: Risen. Produced on a relatively small budget of $20 million, Risen has already earned its investors a return on their investment. Directed by Hollywood veteran Kevin Reynolds (Waterworld, Rapa Nui), Risen is a thriller about an event that happened nearly 2000 years ago.
Roman Tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) is assigned to oversee the execution of a political insurgent named Jesus. By the time Clavius arrives, Jesus has died on the cross during crucifixion. While two other crucified men are tossed in a common burial pit at Golgotha, Joseph of Arimathea asks of Clavius that Jesus be interred in a family tomb. Clavius agrees.
After meeting with his supervisor Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth), Clavius is told to assign two men to guard the tomb for fear that the body of Jesus would be stolen to create a new religious movement. Despite following every forensic procedure, after three days, the body disappears.
Being the middle of the Lenten Season, many Christians are counting down to Easter Sunday on March 27. Risen opens as if it were another television version of CSI and appears to offer another series of Christian clichés. Yet, unlike many New Testament epics that focus on Jesus’ final days, Risen presents a different perspective, the afterlife of Jesus Christ.
This film provides a fresh perspective to the Independent Christian genre born12 years ago with the release of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. While he does not strive for Gibson’s artistic intentions, Reynolds’s low key direction enhances the narrative. The film begins with violence and despair, but grows into a peaceful resolution that does not feel dull or forced.
While Risen is not likely to be mentioned in next year’s Academy Awards, a story about Jesus’ life after death is too good to pass over.