Monday, March 21, 2016

Gods of Egypt and Risen

I still have not gotten over the bitch and I decided to take MC for today and tomorrow. Hehe.. I think the dinner last night contributed to some stomach problems but honestly it was still bearable. It is just that I cannot be bothered about work anymore so I may as well use it as an excuse. So much for going for confession last week and the fact that it is Holy Week this week. Once a sinner, always a sinner.

Since Easter is coming, I decide to watch Risen. When I reached the cinema, I saw Gods of Egypt still showing. It was the one and only show so I decided to watch it first at 1215pm.
I come with an open mind as the reviews I read on this movie are polarising: some people hate it so much and some people think it is pretty good. I honestly don't understand why people hate it so much. From the synopsis alone, it is expected that the plot will be quite predictable of the usual good triumphs over evil and the gods-mortal interactions will not be faraway from a disbelieving mortal having to rely on the gods and the gods having second thoughts about mortals after being helped. So I don't expect much from the story but the CG really impressed me. They can do much more considering how rich Egyptian gods are with their histories so it is kinda wasted that the focus is mostly on Horus and Set (and perhaps Ra) and the rest of the gods are completely neglected. The story may not entirely make sense as Bek, who is just a human, is able to break into Set's vault or how Horus finally is able to defeat Set who has taken over the power of the other gods he has defeated. Anyway don't think too much and this will be one fun brainless entertaining movie to watch.
Timing was just nice and after Gods of Egypt, I watched Risen at 2.30pm. I was surprised to see the cinema hall was nearly full! Honestly it was unexpected because Risen has only very few screenings, whether it is at GV, Cathay, or Shaw, and considering the movie is less than a week old and Easter is coming, I thought this would be an unpopular movie.

The movie takes a unique angle from Easter story as the focus is not on Jesus and the disciples. A fictional Roman soldier, Clavius, is tasked by Pontius Pilate to oversee and prevent any unrest among the Jews from the crucifixion of Yeshua. Being a Roman, Clavius is impartial with the conflict between the Sanhendrin and Yeshua's follower. He becomes intrigued with the case seeing how the Sanhendrin is so interested in the matter to the point of forcing his 2 soldiers to tell lies regarding the actual happening on the Easter morning. He becomes more intrigued with Yeshua's followers after interrogating some of them. The turning point for Clavius is when he sees Yeshua in the upper room who then mysteriously disappears. This leads him to follow the disciples to Galilee where Yeshua promises to see them again. (By the way, I am glad that they use 'Yeshua' instead of 'Jesus' as it makes the movie feels more historical rather than being taken from the Bible straightaway).

Risen is not trying to be the usual biblical preachy type of movie. As a movie, it is quite boring and it does not help that Joseph Fiennes, who plays Clavius, is unexpressive at all. I can't tell whether he is angry, confused, or any other emotion because his face is always like that. I am quite excited to see Tom Felton (who plays Lucius and I wonder if it is deliberate since Draco's father in Harry Potter is Lucius) but his role is like completely redundant.

However, with Easter coming, I find this movie is very relevant. I imagine myself living in those era and I will feel completely lost like Clavius. From outsider's view, Jesus' followers really seem crazy: they are happy when Jesus was recently crucified and with the missing body, they are very sure that He is risen. Some even testified having seen and met Him after the crucifixion. So how do people end up following Jesus? It is all about personal calling and that what happens to Clavius. He does not come to believe because what Jesus' followers tell him. He comes to believe after seeing Jesus' face. At the start of the movie, it was quite shocking to see dead Yeshua with eyes bloodied and opened and Clavius looked at his face. However, this 'seeing' plays great importance subsequently when Clavius has a dream of this face and then seeing this face with his own eyes in the upper room.

Anyway I think it is great that to see how the movie is able to insert a fictional character into the Bible stories without actually doing any disrespect or changing what the Bible is trying to say. Of course we can only imagine what really happened to Jesus' followers on the first few days/weeks/moments after resurrection. But what Risen presents actually feels quite possible and believable.

The life of Jesus is indeed the greatest story ever told. Even when I already know certain things and no matter how many times I read/hear/see certain parts of the Bible, these parts are always touching and I always shed tears. The most touching part for me is the words from John 20:29 and I actually open my Bible to copy this sentence: "You believe because you see me, don't you? Happy are those who have not seen and believe". In the Bible, this sentence is said to Thomas. In the movie, the same line is mentioned to Clavius who still cannot fathom what is actually going on. Is it significant to me? Most definitely yes. When things don't go my way, I grumble, I complain, I feel that God is non-existent and things that line. It always makes me wonder how do people who are living in suffering can still hold unshakeable faith in Jesus. I still have long way to go.

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