If you’re up for a little quality time in a theater or in front of your home screen this week, check out these picks for Easter entertainment. The first two are in theaters, the rest are rent-able, and all bring a special kind of inspiration.
It’s been called “one of the best portrayals of Christ’s death and resurrection to date” (Crosswalk.com). Risen tells the remarkable story through the eyes of an outsider—a Roman soldier who is ordered by Pontius Pilate to find Jesus’ body after it ‘mysteriously’ goes missing from the tomb.
Rated PG-13 for action violence and some disturbing images.
Miracles from Heaven
This new release, from the producers of Heaven Is for Real, is not quite an Easter story, but shines a light on an extraordinary miracle. Ten-year-old Anna, suffering from a rare, incurable disease, has a freak accident that brings her healing, leaving medical specialists mystified, her family restored and their community inspired. Starring Jennifer Garner as Anna’s mom, the movie is based on a true story.
Rated PG for thematic material, including accident and medical images.
The remake promised from The Bible producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett isn’t scheduled to release until August, but the 1959 blockbuster starring Charlton Heston is still considered a cinematic masterpiece. The chariot race! The battle at sea! The resurrection! It’s Bible-era spectacle at its best. Get comfy, though; it’s about 31/2 hours long.
The Passion of the Christ
For sheer heart-wrenching storytelling, Mel Gibson’s account offers a stunning interpretation of the last 12 hours of Jesus’ (portrayed by Jim Caviezel) pre-resurrection life. This film can be hard to watch—but that’s kind of the point. If you’re looking for a cinematic experience depicting humility and suffering and sacrifice—and that the faith celebration of Easter is not about chocolate and bunnies—this is your movie.
Rated R for sequences of graphic violence.
Rise of the Guardians
On the other hand, if you are in the mood for a little bunny goodness, look no further. This beautifully animated movie does not tell the story of the empty tomb, but it does have Hugh Jackman as the Easter bunny and a rather lovely message about finding and fulfilling your unique calling. Besides, we can’t resist the most adorable elves ever and a Santa who ‘cusses’ with Russian composers’ names. Shostakovich!
Rated PG for thematic elements and some mildly scary action.
Because sometimes you just need a little Judy Garland/Fred Astaire fun, with music by Irving Berlin as the cherry on top. The story is beside the point; this stylish, romantic, delightful film is all about the singing and dancing. By the time it’s over you’ll want to adorn yourself with an Easter bonnet “with all the frills upon it” and star in your own parade.
Is there a movie you’d like to add to the list? Please share it in the comments below.