Critics Consensus

Risen Is A So-So Faith-Based Mystery

Plus, Race is reasonably inspiring, and The Witch and Better Call Saul are Certified Fresh.

by | February 18, 2016 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a biblical mystery (Risen, starring Joseph Fiennes and Cliff Curtis), Olympic heroics (Race, starring Stephan James and Jason Sudeikis), and demonic happenings (The Witch, starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Ineson). What do the critics have to say?

Risen (2016) 53%

Christ’s death and resurrection have inspired countless films and TV series, but most stick reasonably close to the Gospels. Risen takes a slightly different tack: in the film, Pontius Pilate tasks Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a Roman centurion and skeptic, to find out whether Jesus was resurrected after his death. Critics say it’s a faith-based film that might even entertain a few non-believers: despite its occasional hokiness, Risen balances its weighty themes with a wry sense of humor, and the performances are sincere and committed.

Race (2016) 62%

The story of Jesse Owens is so gobsmackingly awesome that it’s pretty surprising nobody has made a movie about it until now. Race chronicles Owens’ performance at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, in which he won four gold medals while taking Hitler’s racist arrogance down a few notches. Critics say the result is well acted (particularly by relative newcomer Stephan James in the lead), beautifully photographed, deeply respectful of its hero… and often a bit too slavish in its adherence to the inspirational sports movie playbook.

The Witch (2015) 90%

The Witch has generated heated anticipation among horror buffs since its screening at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Set in New England in the 1600s, The Witch is the tale of a family that establishes a homestead in a remote wooded area after being  exiled from their Puritan community. But when they are threatened by otherworldly horrors, the family members accuse each other of consorting with the demonic.  Critics say the Certified Fresh The Witch conjures a mood of profound dread that will linger long after the lights go up in the theater.

What’s Hot on TV

Better Call Saul: Season 2 (2016) 97%

Better Call Saul continues to tighten its hold on viewers with a batch of episodes that inject a surge of dramatic energy while showcasing the charms of its talented lead.

The New Yorker Presents: Season 1 (2016) 86%

Though it can never live up to its parent publication in terms of purpose and cachet, many of the segments in The New Yorker Presents are classy, polished, and culturally educational.

Vinyl: Season 1 (2016) 74%

Though the execution feels almost as dated as the period it represents, 11.22.63 gradually reveals a compelling, well-performed series of events.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Embrace of the Serpent (2015) , the Best Foreign Language Film nominee about two European scientists who venture into the Amazon jungle 20 years apart, is at 97 percent.
  • Rolling Papers (2015) , a documentary about the Denver Post’s hiring of a marijuana editor in the wake of Colorado’s legalization of weed, is at 75 percent.
  • Snowtime! (2015) , a Canadian animated family film about an epic snowball fight, is at 67 percent.
  • Forsaken (2015) , starring Kiefer and Donald Sutherland in a Western about a former gunfighter who returns to town to reconcile with his father and ends up protecting the community from bandits, is at 33 percent.

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