From ‘Affirm,’ a new division of SONY Pictures’ releasing modern stories for the ‘Christian Values’ market, an old-fashioned throwback; a modestly budgeted Biblical Epic that plays as a Judaean police procedural. Joseph Fiennes, beefed up from SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE/’98 days, is the Roman Tribune assigned by Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth, beefed up from EQUUS/’77 days) to find out what’s happened to the body of ‘Yeshua’ post-crucifixion. He’s gone missing! You know the rest: Tribune investigates; meets disciples; questions his own beliefs; fights off old Roman pals; sees the Light; joins the Tribe. Kevin Reynolds, who partnered Kevin Costner on Christ-Lite allegories (ROBIN HOOD/’91; WATERWORLD/’95), runs a decent show, but can’t get past boilerplate History Channel/PBS production values; or a Jesus who’s more friendly Camp Counselor than Christ. And while the film is never despicable, like last year’s abomination remake of BEN-HUR, it’s hard to imagine this preaching to the non-converted. Which is pretty much the whole point, no?
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: Another largely Anglo-Saxon gang of disciples in here.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Reynolds is responsible for one of filmdom’s true oddities, the Easter Island drama RAPA NUI/’94, a film as distinctive as RISEN is anodyne.