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Film review: The Young Messiah – action-star Jesus aimed at Christians and their children

Most likely to appeal to committed Christians, The Young Messiah suffers from a confusing mix of accents and a demon who seems to be channelling Darth Vader

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 December, 2016, 12:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 December, 2016, 12:31pm

2½/5 stars

The Young Messiah is aimed squarely at committed Christians, and they will probably be satisfied with what they see. Others will find this trudge through Jesus’ childhood years laborious, even though it thankfully refrains from proselytising – it styles itself as a children’s action drama rather than an educational film.

The main point of interest is that the script, which is based on a book by The Vampire Chronicles author Ann Rice, draws from the “infancy gospels”, works that form part of the apocryphal gospels, books of dubious authorship that are not part of the Christian New Testament. The infancy gospels detail events in Jesus’ childhood, a time that is ignored in the official “canonical” gospels.

The story begins in Egypt, where seven-year-old Jesus (Adam Greaves-Neal) brings a child bully who has been killed by a demon back to life. Jesus and his extended family pack their bags for Nazareth, where the boy must later begin his religious mission.

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The family are faced with a range of murderous Roman soldiers as they travel, but the main focus is when Jesus – who already knows he has special powers – should be told that he’s the son of God.

The saviour of humanity is a big acting role for any young child to shoulder, and Greaves-Neal copes with the challenge by playing it straight. He ignores all the supernatural elements and simply treats Jesus like a confident child with a big future.

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The sundry adults fare less well, and the mix of Irish, English and American accents proves distracting. Other oddities include a demon who seems to be channelling Darth Vader.

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The Young Messiah opens on December 8

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