The Young Messiah (2016) Movie Review: Jesus Origins

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Community Review

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1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Movie Review

By: Mitch Hansch (Four Beers) –

Spoiler alert: Jesus dies on the cross and three days later is resurrected showcasing that he is in fact the Messiah of the Jewish faith.  And FYI, the Titanic sinks, so how do you tell a compelling story from the best selling book of all time?  The Young Messiah may not provide the most tension in a film ever, and the devil inside of me kept wondering if the film might go the Inglourious Basterds route and change up history, but that would be the worst idea ever. Instead, The Young Messiah focuses on the path less taken when it comes to telling the story of Jesus of Nazareth.  

In an X-Men: Origins kind of way, but nowhere near as bad and even with better CGI, The Young Messiah focuses on the childhood of Jesus when he was seven years old and not knowing yet that he is to become the Messiah.  Based off of Anne Rice’s novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt (yep, that Interview with a Vampire Anne Rice) which was inspired from The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, it highlights what it’s like to be the parents of a child they believe to be begotten of God, and when to pass on that information to a child who questions why he has the ability to raise the dead and heal the sick.

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A Toast

For the most part Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh‘s screenplay has a delicate and nuanced touch to such a unique family dynamic.  What would it be like to father a child that didn’t come from your seed? How do you parent or even discipline the Savior of Mankind?  What would it be like to be the mother of a child when a king slaughtered every newborn son  so that your child’s prophecy wouldn’t be fulfilled?  What would it be like to be the older brother of a sibling who receives so much attention and concern?  These are all fascinating aspects of Jesus’s youth that haven’t been covered all that much if ever on screen.  

And for the most part The Young Messiah has actors talented enough to help delve into the questions.  The young Adam Greaves-Neal has a mighty challenge with playing the youthful Jesus, but does so well and more importantly not annoyingly so.  Sara Lazzaro and Vincent Walsh as Mary and Joseph spend most of their time worrying over Jesus’ trials, but are allowed to show the deep love they have for him.  A scene towards the end with Mary finally giving Jesus the what’s up is a tremendously well written and well acted speech.  There is beauty in those moments and it makes the film well worth it.

Beer Two

The most part doesn’t mean the whole part.  Unfortunately, Christian McKay, who plays Jesus’ Uncle, suffers upon us the acting sin of hamminess.  McKay, supposed to give the film some lightness, oversteps his duty by never letting a moment pass without some eye raise or vocal guffaw.  I also had a problem with The Demon, basically the Devil, who spends his time whispering lies to others and can only be seen by Jesus. He does have a decently chilling scene trying to put the fear of Jesus into Jesus, but I couldn’t get passed the actor Rory Keenan, whose bleached blond hair made him look like a Jared Leto Motley Crue reject.

Beer Three

Unfortunately, the film’s most notable actor, Sean Bean, is wasted in a messy boring subplot as the Roman soldier Severus, who is charged with finding the young Messiah and killing him.  Meant to give the film tension, it does not, and meant to give the film salvation for the Gentiles, it does not.

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Beer Four

And I hate to be that guy, but here’s another Biblical film that is unnecessarily white-washed.  It bugs me when you have all the background actors filled out with with folks of Middle Eastern descent, but if you only get a line if you are English and White.  I’m sure that those background actors appreciated the job, but I’m sure that the community, which is where the Bible is depicted, would appreciate the greater opportunities as well.  That doesn’t mean White people can’t tell the stories in the Bible, but with the influx of faith based films, why can’t we have an influx in minority casting??!!!!

Verdict

The Young Messiah has it’s problems, but has its pleasures as well.  There is goodness in this film and it’s even entertaining to watch.  

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About Mitch Hansch

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