Movie Review: Risen – A Religious Film with the Intelligence to go Mainstream

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While generally, I don’t go for religious films, I have to admit that Risen gave me a strong appreciation for when the drama and the bible, is done right. This is a low key film with a strong, authentic feel. It’s a no-nonsense approach to the subject, without too much sentimentality.

We start at the end of most movies about the crucifixion of Jesus. In this case, he’s has already been crucified and the movie is actually about a Roman named tribune Clavius (Joseph Fienne), who was tasked by the Pontius Pilot (Peter Firth) with handling Jesus’ burial and the subsequent investigation when Jesus goes missing. In the first half, its free of any overt piety, instead focusing on Clavius’ skepticism and belief that the explanation for the disappearance can be found in the physical world rather than the spiritual one.

Then, as he discovers the truth, this movie takes an inspirational turn that can be enjoyed even by the secular. It’s a movie about the growth of Clavius from gruff skeptic into believer. It’s not shoved down your throat or preachy, like many religious movies can get. Instead it unfolds in a way that is organic and believable.

I think the choice to focus on after the crucifixion was a great one, as this area is so rarely covered when we deal with bible based tales. In this case, it worked out extremely well and manages to be a religious film with the intelligence to go mainstream.

Fienne was particularly good in his jaded role, and his simple deadpan delivery really plays like he’s a man who’s lost all hope in life. Despite that, he still manages to be likable.

The key here is that the makers exercised restraint. They went with show over tell, giving us a rich story, complete with an excellent cast, who trusted the audience enough to know they’d be able to get the gist without having it spelled out for them. So many movies with a religious slant underestimate the intelligence of the viewer and this is definitely not one of them.

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The scenery and makeup were also believable, blending into the movie rather than standing out. It’s a movie that manages to be both gritty and visually appealing at the same time. It’s a more sedate scene in order to match a more sedate tale.

Just saying, not your kids Veggie Tales.

All in all, it’s a well done effort that’s well rounded in both cast, story and setting. While it does cover faith more than some might like, it’s something I expected in this particular film. That’s because it’s possible to get its message without feeling like you have to sign on for the whole Jesus experience.

All in all, worth the watch. This oblique, nearly clinical look at the crucifixion of Jesus, followed with a slight faith based overlay, creates the best when it comes to religious films. While not for everyone, I can say I appreciate that it’s an excellent effort. While not exactly for kids, it’s still a good one for older teens and parents alike.


WE GAVE IT: 3.5 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

4 stars

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The 5 Most Shocking Best Picture Oscar Snubs Of The Past 60 Years


As you all know, the 2015 Oscar nominations were released today. Many people (myself included) are already pointing out the obvious snubs. You can read all about them by clicking that link you see above.

But the nominations are just the beginning. The awards still have to be handed out, and you can bet that there will be some major upsets. It happens every single year, but some years the snubs are a little more obvious and suspicious.

Check out the list down below to see the five Best Picture snubs we still can’t get over.



No. 5 – Psycho (1960)

Most of the films on this list were at least nominated for Best Picture, but Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller masterpiece didn’t even get nominated. Hitchcock did land a nomination for the Best Director, but he didn’t take home the award. You can’t deny the impact this film had. The shower scene is one of the most iconic horror scenes of all time, and Bernard Herrmann’s classic score was just icing on the Bosco chocolate syrup cake.



No. 4 – Goodfellas (1990)

You can blame Kevin Costner for this. Goodfellas was nominated for Best Picture, and many fans believed it was going to take home the award, but insiders knew nothing could stop Mr. Costner. He directed, produced and starred in the Best Picture winner, Dances with Wolves. I think we can all agree that Goodfellas was clearly the better movie. It’s in the conversation for one of the best films of all time.

In total, it was nominated for six Academy Awards, but it went just 1 for 6 on the big night. Joe Pesci took home the award for Best Supporting Actor.



No. 3 – Saving Private Ryan (1998)

In a more competitive year, Saving Private Ryan probably wouldn’t have been the frontrunner. The first 30 minutes aside, the film would not be considered Best Picture material in most years. But in the year it was nominated? It deserved to win. Everyone was shocked when it was announced that Shakespeare in Love would be taking home the biggest award of the night.

Just take a moment to watch the first 60 seconds of this clip. Look at Harrison Ford’s face when he announces the winner. You see him look back down at the piece of paper, clearly thinking, “What the hell is going on here?”



No. 2 – Brokeback Mountain (2005)

After losing to Crash for Best Picture, Brokeback Mountain writer Larry McMurtry suggested that homophobia played a major role in the snub. Looking back at it now, it’s pretty obvious something fishy was going on. Michael Jensen noted that before the Oscars, Brokeback Mountain became “the most honored movie in cinematic history.” Prior to Brokeback Mountain, no other film that had won the Director’s Guild, Writer’s Guild, and Producer’s guild failed to win the Best Picture Oscar.

It’s difficult to explain. All signs back then pointed to Brokeback Mountain being the Best Picture, and 10 years later, the signs are still up.

Bonus: Listen to the crowd reaction when Jack Nicholson makes the announcement.



No. 1 – The Color Purple (1985)

Tying the record set by The Turning Point, Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple failed to take home any awards after being nominated an incredible 11 times. It scored nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role (x2), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song.

It didn’t win any of those! Not even Best Original Song. Are you kidding me?