A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Risen is a Biblical drama set during the days before and after the death of Jesus Christ; it focuses on Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a Roman soldier who tries to make sense of seemingly impossible events. While there's no swearing and only a little bit of subtle innuendo, there's lots of graphic violence, in both battle scenes (slashing with swords and spears, bashing heads with rocks and clubs) and crucifixion sequences (detailed discussion and demonstration of precisely what's involved), though relatively little blood overall. Some characters also get drunk on wine.
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What's the story?
Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a high-ranking Roman soldier, is given an usual assignment: Protect the tomb of Jewish prophet Yeshua (Cliff Curtis) -- said to be the son of God -- who has just been crucified, and make sure his followers don't steal the corpse. But the next morning, the tomb is open, the guards are missing, and so is the body, leaving Clavius to track down the disciples and find out what happened. When he finally locates Yeshua, Clavius is rocked to the core to find him alive and well, prompting the Roman to reevaluate his beliefs.
Is it any good?
Fine acting by stars Fiennes and Tom Felton (as Lucius) elevates RISEN somewhat, even if it's hampered by a straightforward script that doesn't leave much room for lyricism or depth. A Biblical tale this epic arguably has endless potential for artistry, but instead, Risen feels more like a lesson than a work of art, and one that's pretty thin at that.
It's fascinating to start the story after Jesus is crucified and disappears from the tomb -- since we've seen the lead-up in many other films -- as well as to have it unfurl with the fictional Clavius at its center. But ultimately the story feels underdeveloped and peters out in the end when it should crescendo. It's a disappointing finish to a film that starts with much promise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Risen's violence. What role does it play in the story? Do you think all of it is necessary to tell the story effectively? Did the different types (battles vs. crucifixion) have different impacts on you? Why do you think that is?
How does Risen compare to other faith-based movies about the life of Jesus Christ?
Talk about Clavius' choices. Why does he abandon his position as a high-ranking Roman soldier? What does he see that makes him question his beliefs?
- In theaters: February 19, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: May 24, 2016
- Cast: Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Cliff Curtis
- Director: Kevin Reynolds
- Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: Biblical violence including some disturbing images
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