Review: The Young Messiah, C
Rated PG-13, 111 minutes
The little Jesus movie. That's essentially the premise of the serviceable but sluggish new historical drama "The Young Messiah," which tells the story of the exploits of the young Savior. If the thought of another Christian-themed film isn't all that appealing, know that the source material is the novel "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" by Anne Rice (yes, that Anne Rice of "Interview with the Vampire" fame who wrote it after she returned to the Catholic Church in the late 1990's) and has a decent budget and cast, though it's a challenge to make hold moviegoers' interest for nearly two hours. At the age of 7, when Jesus (newcomer Adam Greaves-Neal, charming here) returns from Egypt to his home in Nazareth with his family, he discovers the truth about his life. Directed and written by Cyrus Nowrasteh ("The Stoning of Sorayeh M") and filmed on location in Italy, the bland, slow "The Young Messiah" has a handful of compelling moments about a figure we know a lot about as an adult, but less about as a child. Much like the recent Biblical drama "Risen," this film works by taking a slightly different approach used to appeal to a wider array of filmgoers outside of the Christian set, of which this will still likely appeal more to yet still even they find a little rough going. Sean Bean of "The Lord of the Rings" and the recent "The Martian" is the cast member of note here, appearing as a gruff Roman soldier on the hunt for the young Jesus, and speaking of, "The Young Messiah" uses the typical notion of casting primarily British actors in nearly all the parts, given they may sound and look better in the costumes. Those costumes and sets are serviceable, and Rice's take on Jesus and Satan is mildly intriguing, but otherwise this drab affair is slow-going, with little insight to offer and little of interest, either.