Fans are starting to get excited about the December 2021 release of the new Matrix movie, Resurrections. But this isn’t the only film soon, “coming back from the dead.” Get ready for the sequel to Mel Gibson’s 2004 Bible movie, The Passion of The Christ. And yes, it’s called: Resurrection. We’re not kidding. It didn’t get much press when the idea was first announced in the fall of 2020, probably because too many of us were dealing with the need for a reprieve from Covid. Initially set for a March 2021 release, it’s unclear precisely when Gibson and team will deliver what will be – whether you like it or not – almost certainly a blockbuster, at least in the United States.
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Bear in mind that the first Passion holds the record for the highest-grossing ‘R’ rated film of all time. It cost around US$30 million to make but netted an astonishing US$300 million at the box office as millions of people flocked to watch Jesus get whipped, beaten, and otherwise mistreated for an hour or so before, of course, the big death scene. This time around, it appears we won’t have to endure so much suffering as the plot focuses on what comes after the crucifixion. The Passion 2 could be quite a spectacle – its theme is something no one has yet based an entire well-funded movie upon.
Considering the recent popularity of The Chosen, a Bible TV show that just finished “airing” season two, the stage is set for a new round of Bible movies/TV shows. We put “aired” in air quotes because the show is also a free app and is viewable on YouTube – a nice modern twist.
Some thought Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (2014) would be the fuse for a new round of Bible movies. But while we loved it for its total weirdness, it took flak from all sides and ended up as a film that will likely be ‘rediscovered’ by camp enthusiasts in a few decades. The Chosen, however, stands a real chance of lighting a new torch. It’s refreshingly modern: There were people of color in Judaea, as depicted in The Chosen, so points for historical accuracy.
Part of the reason Noah sank, however, was Aronofsky’s subplots. The Chosen also tries ‘backstories’ and additions but gets away with them because they give us a look at very believable ‘real’ issues. When the brothers James and John quit fishing to follow Jesus, how did their choice affect their families? –That sort of stuff. The Chosen, rather fearlessly, portrays Matthew as autistic.
Series director Dallas Jenkins deserves credit for bravery. The Bible genre is well-worn and usually doesn’t do well when directors get “creative.” A recent example is the King David-set-in-modern-times drama Kings (2009) starring Ian McShane. The show got very little love and only lasted one season, despite a great premise and a giant of acting in the lead.
Film or TV projects based on the world’s best-selling book wax and wane in popularity, but the golden age was hands-down the 1950s-60s. The title that kicked off that golden age was probably The Robe (1953), a class act with the unforgettable Richard Burton and Jean Simmons.
Then they upped the ante — who doesn’t love watching a mostly shirtless Yul Brenner as the Pharaoh of Egypt glare at Charlton Heston’s Moses? “So let it be written, so let it be done!” If you don’t recognize that line from The Ten Commandments (1956), you need to brush up on the classics, especially the work of Cecil B. DeMille.
A few years later, Heston would star in Ben-Hur (1959), a movie that solidly deserves the cliché “classic” title. Things started going downhill with The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), which wasn’t horrible, but that’s hardly a compliment.
Resuscitation of the genre came with Franco Zeffirelli’s 1977 television series, Jesus of Nazareth. This British-Italian series, filmed in the UK, Tunisia, and Morocco, is simply outstanding aside from the lack of diversity. It starred the amazing Robert Powell, who – despite offering an unforgettable portrayal of Jesus – is a very northern European man with deep blue eyes. The Chosen – now the planet’s largest crowd-funded film or TV project – isn’t easily comparable to Zeffirelli’s masterpiece as it’s so… for lack of a better term, “real.”
This latest Jesus, played by Jonathan Roumie, is a person you’d have a proverbial beer with but who is also regal, kind, wise, and “Christ-like.” And oh, and this version of the Savior has brown eyes. The series demonstrates that the Bible-based entertainment genre still has life, and thus, we return to the potential Passion of the Christ 2.
If Mel Gibson manages to pull this off without shooting himself in the foot, are we to be treated to a 2025 adaptation of The Ten Commandments, starting perhaps Zac Efron as Moses? If a new round of Holy-Hollywood films is coming, let’s hope they’re at least as engaging as the “indie,” crowd-funded, The Chosen.
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Last Updated on October 21, 2021.