Risen 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
I didn’t know a whole lot about RISEN before sitting down to watch it. I knew it dealt with biblical events, but given that it had a director I knew (Kevin Reynolds, who directed WATERWORLD and ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES) and some actors I recognized, I thought it was going to be more in the vein of NOAH or EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS. When I say that, I mean that I thought it was going to be a normal movie without an agenda that just happened to tell a story found in the Bible. But I was very wrong. RISEN is a faith-based movie that has a clear purpose; to teach the audience about Jesus. Faith-based movies have their place, but it’s hard to judge them against other movies. So then the question becomes, should you judge RISEN against other faith-based movies (FIREPROOF, WAR ROOM, etc.) or should it be judged like every other movie? The answer to that question is up to you.
RISEN tells the story of the resurrection of Christ through the eyes of the Roman soldier Clavius (Fiennes), who is tasked with making sure Yeshua/Jesus’s body is protected from would-be thieves and then when the body disappears, he’s tasked with tracking down those who might have stolen it. Along the way, he interviews people that may or may not have been there and uncovers several conspiracies that attempt to hide what really happened. As a non-believer, Clavius is skeptical of what he learns, but as the mysteries unravel, he starts to question his own stance on religion.
The basic story is actually pretty decent. The idea of a Roman soldier investigating the resurrection has plenty of directions it could go. Somewhere in here is a good movie, but like with most faith-based films, the filmmakers sacrifice story in order to get a message across. The message in RISEN is one of love and forgiveness, while also exploring the specifics of Christ’s resurrection. That’s a great message, but we don’t need to pause the movie while one character preaches it to another. At that point, RISEN becomes more of a propaganda film and that’s where it loses me. Reynolds loses sight of the story he was trying to tell and sacrifices the quality of his movie to deliver a specific message, which is very frustrating. I’m not even sure that was necessary since the very subject matter lent itself well to delivering a subtle, spiritual message. But again, this movie was made for a specific purpose and for a specific audience.
If we’re comparing this to other faith-based movies, then the barometer is changed drastically. In the same breath as FIREPROOF, COURAGEOUS, FACING THE GIANTS and several others, RISEN is clearly a step ahead. Although still preachy, it’s significantly less so, which makes it easier to stomach. There’s also a nice little battle scene to open the movie and Reynolds adds some quality direction you don’t normally see in these types of films. So if your church is having a movie night, know that it could definitely get worse.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The 4K Ultra HD transfer is a noticeable upgrade over the Blu-ray. This is the kind of film where the quality improvements are more apparent since we don’t have any CGI and most of the film is focused on one or two individuals. That means colors and textures really stand out on the 4K version of the film. The scenes where Clavius is interviewing various witnesses is the most obvious. Those scenes were a little darker, but the 4K version shows off the textures of the characters’ clothing and the shadows around the cave/house really stand out. Overall, this is a high quality video transfer.
Audio: The 4K Ultra HD version of RISEN offers a Dolby Atmos upgrade, which is only slightly better than what you would find on the Blu-ray, but that’s not the fault of the audio mix. This just isn’t the type of movie that’s going to push the Dolby Atmos to its full potential.
There are no 4K exclusive features included on the 4K disc, but it does include a copy of the Blu-ray, which includes the following special features.
Commentary with Patrick Aiello and Paul Aiello: We hear from the producer and writer, but I would have loved to have heard from Kevin Reynolds or any of the stars involved. The Aiellos offer a decent commentary track, but stick to the technical aspects of shooting the movie.
Deleted Scenes (4:42): Five quick scenes that didn’t have much of an impact one way or the other.
The Mystery of the Resurrection: Making Risen (11:15): This is a straightforward making of feature that looks at how the film came to be.
Creating A.D. Jerusalem (9:30): The locations and settings take center stage in this featurette.
The Battle of the Zealots Deconstructed (5:02): The opening battle sequence gets its own featurette.
Script to Screen (3:55): This focuses on the film’s structure, the actors’ performances and other areas of the film.