The Young Messiah
By S. Jhoanna Robledo,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Intense drama about Jesus' boyhood looks good, lacks zest.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The times when you're most tempted to lose hope are exactly when you most need to maintain your conviction and, if applicable, faith.
Positive Role Models
Many would consider Jesus Christ to be the ultimate role model -- but in this film he's just 7 years old and still figuring out the world and his place in it. While it's clear that he's got a good heart, he still has to learn a few things before he emerges as a true leader.
Violence & Scariness
Several scenes show Roman centurions taking on bandits, with sword fights, slashing, and deaths, though there's not much blood. Other sequences include people being crucified and writhing in agony, including a long shot of a road lined with crosses stretching on for miles, each holding a dead or dying person. It's implied that soldiers are hunting down (and killing) male babies.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple of scenes include scantily clad dancing girls.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some characters drink wine, including a few scenes that show raucous partying.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Young Messiah, based on the novel by Anne Rice, focuses on Jesus Christ's life as a young boy. It's set in Biblical-era Judea, and a key part of the story is the Roman soldiers' efforts to track Jesus down -- efforts that include violent (albeit fairly bloodless) clashes, with sword fights, slashing, and death; it's also implied that soldiers are hunting down (and killing) male babies. There are also several crucifixion sequences that show dying victims writhing in agony, as well as some who've already died. Characters drink wine at festive events, some of them quite raucous, though there's no swearing or sex (apart from some scantily clad women, that is). While it's not a gentle story, it does have strong messages about the importance of faith.
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The Young Messiah
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What's the Story?
Plenty has been written about the life of Jesus Christ as an adult, but his childhood -- about which much less is known -- has received far less attention. THE YOUNG MESSIAH (based on the novel by Anne Rice) steps into that gap, focusing on Jesus (Adam Greaves-Neal) as a 7-year-old boy as he and his extended family embark on a trip across Judea. He's unaware of his destiny or his lineage, but young Jesus is starting to realize that he has some unusual abilities. Meanwhile, his powers have come to the attention of King Herod (Jonathan Bailey), who considers the boy and his capabilities a threat and dispatches a trusted soldier, Severus (Sean Bean), to find Jesus and kill him.
Is It Any Good?
A strong performance by Bean makes The Young Messiah an intriguing watch, as does the premise about Jesus' family and how they understood and embraced his destiny. But that's not enough to sustain an entire movie. Herod's characterization is jarringly out of place, the film at times is overloaded with portent, and Severus' ultimate change of heart feels unearned. Extra points for the cinematography, though.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how The Young Messiah depicts Jesus' boyhood. How accurate do you think it is? How does it compare to what people know about Jesus' life as an adult?
What role does violence play in the story? How does it compare to the kind of violence you might see in an action movie? Which has more impact, and why?
What audience do you think the movie is most intended to appeal to? Do you have to be a Christian to find meaning in its story and messages?
Have you read the novel the book is based on? If so, how does it compare? If not, does seeing the movie make you interested in reading it?
- In theaters: March 11, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: June 14, 2016
- Cast: Sean Bean, Adam Greaves-Neal, Sara Lazzaro
- Director: Cyrus Nowrosteh
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some violence and thematic elements
- Last updated: March 29, 2023
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