Jim Caviezel is bringing Jesus Christ back to the screen. As reported by USA Today, Caviezel has confirmed that he will take another turn as the Messiah for Mel Gibson’s long-planned sequel to his giant 2004 hit The Passion of the Christ, which will focus on the Resurrection and, Caviezel promises, “is going to be the biggest film in history”.
No small promise is that, nor is it an unfamiliar one to moviegoers. But the team of Gibson and Caviezel took the world by storm with The Passion of the Christ, the ultimate cinematic Passion Play. Its depiction of the Crucifixion of Jesus brought in over $600 million worldwide (and spawned an industry of mostly-dubious faith-based films).
The obvious snark about a dead character coming back for the sequel is best left to the likes of the AV Club.
The more difficult admission for the snarkers, and for the critical cognoscenti who have long expressed dubiousness about it, is that The Passion of the Christ has proven to be a work of extreme cinematic power to believers and non-believers alike. Between it and, a few years later, Apocalypto, Mel Gibson proved himself as one of the great directors of the modern age.
His own passion and beliefs blazed across screens that otherwise were finding themselves increasingly bereft of real points of view.
There has long been a disconnect between critics and mass audiences about the film, with the public reception far more favorable.
Critics decried the film’s violence, and while The Passion was uncompromisingly bloody, that criticism always came across as a crutch and an excuse. The discomfort was more likely with the subject matter and with Gibson himself, who was just beginning to enter a sad, controversial decade in which he became persona non grata within an industry of far lesser talents.
Biblical films were among the earliest blockbusters; Jesus Christ once had a far greater presence on movie screens than He does today. Fourteen years ago, though, Mel Gibson made one for the ages. The vision of the Resurrection he’s likely to paint could very well live up to his lead actor’s promise.
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