Wednesday, March 16, 2016
The Young Messiah Review
The reason this movie was so intriguing to me is because it attempted to tell the story of what life was like for Christ as a young child. As I stated in my review of Risen, the story of Christ's life is one that has been told over and over in the history of cinema. Some of the first movies ever made were movies about Christ. This makes sense because Christians are obviously adamant about getting the story of Christ out to the world. But now with so many movies about this same subject having been made already, in my opinion you plan on doing this again then you have to do something new and unique. This is what this movie did. No one has really attempted to dive into the childhood of Christ. And there's good reason for that. Almost nothing is written about the childhood of Christ. We obviously have the story of his birth. Then we have the story of him teaching the priests in the temple when he was 12. Outside that, we have one small verse that says that he increased in wisdom and knowledge. That's it. The rest of what's written about him in the Gospels is him as an adult. That means there would have to be a lot of creativity to make this work as well as a lot of intelligence to make Christian audiences accept this as plausible.
The rest of the movie is essentially a coming of age story, so to speak. Jesus is realizing that he has these amazing powers to perform miracles, but he doesn't know why he is so special. But Mary and Joseph won't tell him because they feel he is too young to know this. In theory, I can understand the struggles Mary and Joseph have as parents in this situation. How do you teach God's only begotten son about God? Is it right to tell a 7-year-old that he is in fact the savior of the world? It's also possible that Mary and Joseph at this point don't fully comprehend exactly what this means themselves so they might not be sure how to explain in. But still. These are two very faithful human beings as the Bible explains. An angel came to them before he was born and told them who this was. Why would they hold back in explaining to him who is? Especially after, according this this movie, he's definitely proven that he deserves to know since he's already performed miracles and can quote all scripture. But anywho, they don't and so most of this movie is young Jesus trying to figure it out on his own which includes him travelling from Nazareth to Jerusalem by himself to figure this out. It just didn't feel right to me.
The other thing about this movie is that the tone felt off. This is Easter time. And this is a movie about Christ. This should be more light-hearted and spiritual in tone. Even if the facts are off in a Biblical movie, if I come out feeling uplifted and inspired, I can give it a pass. That's the point of a faith-based movie, right? That doesn't happen here. This movie is surprisingly dark and creepy. It also definitely earns its PG-13 rating. Now I'm not against the idea of making a faith-based movie PG-13. Risen from last month and Son of God from 2014 were both PG-13 and I enjoyed those movies. But those were PG-13 mainly because of the crucifixion scenes. The tone was still great and uplifting. The Young Messiah was just creepy and depressing for much of it. First off, we had the crazy new young Herod trying to hunt down this child. They did a great job of making him feel evil and crazy, but they got a little carried away with it, especially when they threw in a scene of a scantily-clad female dancing for him for an extended period of time. Because of him, much of the movie was the Roman soldiers chasing Jesus and his family. They were terrifying. We had a few gruesome crucifixion scenes. As in while travelling, the family walked down a path full of people being crucified. Was this necessary? And when all that wasn't happening, we had the devil creeping around.
In this end, there's a lot of choices for Christian audiences this Easter season. As a Christian myself, I really enjoy a good faith-based movie, especially during Easter or Christmas seasons. I want to be able to recommend these movies to you if you are also the target audience. If you aren't a person of faith and you don't like Christian movies regardless of how good they are, well, I don't really know why you are reading this because you already probably knew that there wasn't a chance that you would go see this movie. Unless you just like reading my reviews. In which case, thanks. But if you are a Christian looking for a good faith-based movie to see, my recommendation is that you skip this one. I did think the production quality of the movie is great and while this isn't a bad movie, the story was just not interesting, it was way too dark and creepy than it needed to be, it wasn't very spiritual at all, and, although we don't know much about the life of Christ when he was this young, this just didn't feel like it was even in the right ballpark. I didn't hate this. But I didn't enjoy it either. I'll let you know if Miracles from Heaven or God's Not Dead 2 are worth seeing, but as of now I can send you to see Risen instead of this. That's my recommendation. My grade for The Young Messiah is a 6/10.