Joseph & Mary

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November 14, 2016
Joseph & Mary
Joseph & Mary Trailer | Official Trailer (2016) |  Kevin Sorbo

At a time of much civil unrest, Elijah is unsuccessful at stopping the execution of an innocent citizen by a corrupt Roman publican, intent to collect taxes. The dying man urges Elijah to protect his surviving widow and their two young sons. But while Jesus survives King Herod the Great s slaughter of the innocents, it tragically claims the lives of the young boys Elijah swears to protect. Consequently, he makes it his life's mission to avenge their deaths according to the laws of the land.

Complications ensue when Elijah spends time with a young Jesus, who challenges the very beliefs that fuel Elijah's quest for retribution. The more time Elijah spends with Joseph, Mary and their young Son, the more he questions the true identity of this young idealistic student. Could Jesus possibly be the Son of God? Was Elijah bearing witness to a two thousand year old prophecy?

When the time comes to face his life-long enemy, Elijah finds himself warring within, facing his biggest challenge yet to kill the Soldier who brutally murdered his two innocent young wards or to turn the other cheek and choose forgiveness, contradicting every scripture upheld by Elijah s forefathers. JOSEPH AND MARY is a story of inspiration and hope, of mercy versus revenge, in the years before Jesus became the Man that ultimately changed the course of humanity forever.

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Joseph & Mary
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With school nativity season almost upon us "Joseph & Mary" looks to beat the rush and get in first with a new telling of the story of Jesus' birth and childhood. This film tells the story through the eyes of Joseph and Mary's family friend Elijah. He is a Rabbi and tries to do what he feels God would want him to do. So when the Herod's tax collector takes issue with a man in the market place and he is killed, Elijah is charged by the dying man to look after his wife and sons - he determines to do just that. Initially it is practical help for the family, but as time passes he develops a bond with the older boy and there is clearly affection between the widow, Rebecca and Elijah.

At the same time Elijah tries to help Joseph and Mary and even travels with them to the census. He is witness to some of the events of the night of Jesus birth, although not the event itself. It isn't long before King Herod issues his command to slaughter all the boys under the age of 2 and Elijah gets to Rebecca too late to help and to find that, devastatingly, her older son has also been killed. Joseph and Mary had got away thanks to Joseph's dream and Jesus survives but Rebecca and Elijah become bent on taking revenge on the soldier who killed the boys. Rebecca and Elijah get married and move to Jerusalem for a few years and it is here, near the temple when Elijah encounters Jesus, now 12 years old, and starts to question who this boy might be.

One of the major difficulties that this film has is that it doesn't really know what it wants to focus on. It spends a long time lingering on Joseph, Mary and the birth of Jesus but despite all this it manages to truncate the whole event by removing the Angels and Shepherds and concentrating on the Magi arriving on the night of Jesus birth! Then it tries to tell the story of Elijah who with his new wife swears vengeance on the Roman soldier. When Mary and Joseph escape to Egypt we see no development in this story and suddenly they are back when Jesus is a young boy. There are some comments as they walk past Rebecca's empty house and suddenly Jesus is 12 years old in the temple before we see Elijah again. As a story arc goes it could have been very strong. We should have seen more character development between Rebecca and Elijah and the growing romance and how Elijah would agree to a plan of vengeance under the law.

This is the major issue with the film but there are many others that just add to the frustration. Despite the inclusion of Kevin Sorbo in the cast this really does suffer all the way through from wooden acting. Even Sorbo's charm cannot lift this movie from where it finds itself, although there are some reasonable moments between him and Mary. Of course it is also possible to question the casting of Kevin as Joseph because after all he's in his mid-fifties!

The script just doesn't really give him any opportunity to flex his acting muscles and the production is so pared back due to budget constraints that there is virtually no art in the making of it. The main concept is actually quite interesting, of course much of it is extra-Biblical and uses plenty of license, but it just isn't developed properly. I think much less focus on Jesus and his family, to have them as incidental to the story in the way that "Risen" did. This would have allowed them much more space to operate and properly execute the story.

In the end Elijah is left with a choice - vengeance or mercy. He makes his choice but in all honesty the viewer is given no reason for why he should or should not forgive. This film is trying to tell a story about forgiveness instead of vengeance but never really tells us why. Jesus teachings, and Josephs convictions just aren't conveyed well enough for them to make any real impact.

While this film tries hard to bring this all together and it is very earnest in it's attempt, it fails to do what it sets out to do. Perhaps if you have a good school with a small to moderate budget, it may be that the school play version actually ends up being better than this film!

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