Because I will be having Bruce Marchiano on my radio show on October 11th 2011, I knew I needed to see this iconic film first before speaking with him. Now one common complaint I heard when researching this film was “the guy who plays Jesus is just way too smiley”. Despite reading that complaint, I wanted to watch Matthew for myself because I loved the idea of seeing an entire gospel presented on film, critics can be harsher than what is reality, and Bruce’s performance was just excellent in The Encounter. To describe what this movie is like in a very simple explanation, it is exactly as the title sounds.
Matthew is an epic presentation of the entire Gospel of Matthew; verse for verse. Some of the verses are specifically read by a narrator, who is an aged Matthew, while others are simply acted out by a particular actor or actress. Because of the length of material this is a two disc movie; originally it was a four VCR taped movie. This gospel presentation is based on the old NIV translation, not the new NIV that came out in 2010 obviously, and this movie came out in 1995. Now some might complain this movie is too long, but obviously it’s going to be long considering it is the ENTIRE Gospel of Matthew verse for verse! Lol seriously though, I watched the entire presentation and took every thought I could dream up into account to be a fair critic and I felt there were certainly some good and bad things about this movie.
One good thing I liked about this movie was the sense of authenticity when it came to the scenery and people. Another thing I enjoyed about the movie was the narration from Richard Kiley (RIP), who played the aged disciple, and the other actors were for the most part very well done. Of course I am a bit mixed up on the smiling mentioned earlier in both a good and bad way. I felt the smiling was good in that I haven’t always thought of Jesus Christ being someone who smiled often and I imagine he gave plenty of smiles to people so in that regard it was quite refreshing to see. However, there were also times when I said to myself “well I can see what they mean for this part” and maybe some parts it’s questionable whether Jesus would have been smiling or not, but the thing about that is we don’t know the exact way he said/did everything since we weren’t literally there to see Jesus Christ doing all those events. Really the whole smiling argument thing some reviewers have talked about, I don’t feel it hurts the movie much as there are going to be bits and pieces where you’ll say “well I don’t know if it would have happened exactly in that way.” Overall I liked this film for the most part, there were lines that could have been said better and there were a few camera shots like where the demons go into the swine that could have been done better too, but other than some minor details I liked this movie and feel this is good for either educating someone about the gospel or for a Christian who just doesn’t like to read very much.
TCP Movie Rating: 4 out of 5 stars