Independent film makers affiliated with religious groups have been making money over the past few years with stories from the Bible and from the life of Christ. It looks like there is enough profit for an established film company like Columbia to get into the market and get some of the dollars from the faithful who have flocked to films which verity their beliefs.
Risen is not a big screen religious film like the Cinemascope films of the 50s, neither is it inspiring. The story line is much like The Robe with a script that changes a nonbeliever who had a hand in the crucifixion of Jesus. Here Joseph Fiennes plays Clavius, the tribune who is responsible for getting the job of disposing of Christ, who is considered a problem by Peter Firth's Pilate. Early on Clavius displays a bit of humanity when he orders Jesus killed more quickly with less torture. That begins his slippery slope which leads him out of his powerful position and eventually one of the pals of the Apostles.
Killing Christ was not enough Pilate wanted proof of death fearing word will get out that Jesus had risen from the dead. As we know and expect the stone of the final resting place is moved and on Easter morning and there is no evidence of where Jesus is and if he is alive or dead. The followers of Jesus are played as a free wheeling happy group of men with big smiles and a sense of relaxed oblivion when it comes to escaping from the searching Roman army. They are of a different world.
Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare In Love) which won an academy award along with Peter Firth (The Greatest Game Ever Played) appear to be down shifting in this non inspiring film which moves slowly and clearly is not an expensive enterprise. Kevin Reynolds who directed Water World directs here and probably gets as much as he can from a dull script.
It is difficult to critique this category of film, the folks who wants to absorb more of what they believe, will make up most of the audience and they will be satisfied, But like the young audience that thrills on horror film they should demand more quality.