The Miracle Maker (2000)
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I liked most of all the straightforward, reverent way in which they portrayed Christ, sure it's from the Gospels without much(if any) contemporary shading-but that is really what the material deserves, in my thinking. If you are going to do the Easter story, and his parables, show the 12 apostles and etc-then this is the way to go about it. I enjoyed the mix of stop motion and toon animation, esp in the parables. There was an interesting mixture of styles too-some looked folky, some looked outta Marvel Comix(whenever Judas saw Christ as some revolutionary figure, for example), some more cutting edge.
It didn't have the walking on water or Sermon on the Mount scenes, but did include Lazarus, a flashback to the nativity, healings and etc. I think they did the gospels proud here,and have done a very good job of it. This deserves to become a classic.
***1/2 outta ****----very good.
Not being a particularly religious disposition, this was not the reason that prevented me from getting up out of my nice warm bed. Alas, it was the unbelievable animation that bedazzled me. I come from a design/multimedia background, and so I found this example of animation very interesting, and the more I watched it, the more I was amazed.
The flow of the animations; the realism of the characters' features; the expressions on their faces; the interlaced, drawn animation 'dream-sequences'; all these aspects aggregated to form a top class exhibition of animationary excellence.
And to top it all off, the dialogue and storyline were superbly written in a way that would appeal to young AND old. I a twenty-nine year old man, but I have to admit that watching this brought a tear to my eye, and a lump in my throat.
Whether this was an empathetic reaction to the plight of Jesus, or an inherent appreciation of the animation quality... one can only guess.
10 out of 10 (and I only caught the last half hour!!) I shall be ordering a copy of this on DVD as a Christmas present. Thats the easy part... the hard part is deciding which one of my four favourite neices to give it to!
Whenever I watch a film I try to view it as objectively as possible, ignoring my own preconceptions, media hype etc. With this film I will set aside my opinions on the subject matter but will admit that, if you are a Christian with kids then you'll probably love this movie because it does a great job of presenting Jesus in an accessible and convincing way without making it into a Pixar or Disney Happy Meal type product. The plot is well-known but the film still does a good job with it, careful with what it drops and what it includes, building the main blocks of the tale and allowing enough to be hammered home without doing so much that it would overwhelm with events. The animation is well done; the models are smooth and match the action well, while the variations into other styles is used to make a point or to expand the limited scope of the models and their backgrounds.
The voice cast is pretty close to being stellar and they certainly helped the film sell. Fiennes is OK as Jesus but I didn't think he delved deep for a character perhaps an unfair complaint since this is aimed at kids and therefore not a performance that called for complexity or interpretation. Holm is good as Pilate; Hurt is strong in a foundation role, important in building the story on a personal level for kids. Grant is a strange John the Baptist mainly because he sounds very like Richard E. Grant and it doesn't seem right! Stott is unmistakably but a very good Peter. Support from Massey, Molina, Peck, Thewlis, Christie and others all help the voice work add to the classy feel of this film certainly they raise the film above the Sunday school cartoon level that lesser actors could have seen it stuck at.
Overall a good film on several levels. Christians with kids will love it because it gets the message across without being "educational" in a way that puts off kids and without being the other extreme of being a glossy cartoon. However the casual viewer may enjoy it as well, because the voice work is roundly strong, the animation professional and the story told in a manner that is well delivered and watchable. Considering the millions who went to see the lesser "Passion of the Christ", this film deserves to have many more viewers.
What sets this film apart is that through the puppet medium, the figures look like people from the time and place of the original happening, not Hollywood actors in costumes and make up. Since the viewer does not associate a certain actor with the part, it is much easier to accept the puppet as the "real" character. You don't see Jeffrey Hunter, the actor in "King of Kings", playing a part but see more acceptable versions of Christ and the apostles.
The combination of 3D and 2D animation works well in separating the parable stories from the "real" action. It is a jolt at first, but becomes very acceptable as the film goes on.
Don't let the "puppet" idea keep an adult viewer away from this wonderful film. It is a concept that makes the Bible stories wonderfully accessible to all age groups.
While it is normally a caveat to condense a rich and lengthy story such as the life of Jesus Christ in a short running time, we already have a film that really goes into great detail about Jesus: Franco Zefferelli's 1977 masterpiece "Jesus of Nazareth". But this is a perfect film for enlightened children and even the parents will love it. The switching from claymation (which is not really clay, but that is unimportant right now)to regular animation is stunning, not distracting as it would be in a lesser film. It is easily the best animated film I've seen all year. Kudos to Mel Gibson and his production company, Icon, for putting the time and effort to making a wonderful film like this. I only wish Artisan had gotten behind it better, along with another Icon production "Felicia's Journey". I recommend both to anyone who wants to see pure cinema at its' finest.
**** out of 4 stars
The frequent transitions between clay and cartoon animation as a theatrical technique needs explanation before use, especially if only watching brief clips, but these do not detract from the pupils own ability to empathise with characters and evaluate stories based on its presentation.
As an overall synopsis various pericopes are omitted, but this can easily be forgiven a movie of a commercial length, and suitable for pupils to watch in the course of an afternoon.
I personally, as a passionate Christian and student of New Testament Theology, find it a moving and engaging presentation, and it is among the DVD's that I'll stick on on a lazy Sunday afternoon: it's fine for the kids to watch (although obviously they don't get much of its meaning), and I'll enjoy it, too.
As the title indicates, this movie centers on Christ's miracles, but has plenty of parables, counter-legalism interactions with the teachers of the Law, historical clues, relationships, calling of the 12, Gethsemane, the miracle of the Cross, and most importantly the resurrection. My favorite scene is the woman who touches His robe.
The voice-over performances are outstanding, particularly Ralph Finnes (QUIZ SHOW, SCHINDLER'S LIST) as Jesus. The writing is never sentimental or dumbed-down for the kiddies, it is intelligent and mature without annoying musical numbers, while still maintaining emotion and poignancy. I almost always dislike made-for-TV films, in fact I rarely even see or review them. The last TV movie that was really good was ABC's 'THE SHINING' about four years ago. After viewing the previews for 'THE MIRACLE MAKER,' it looked too good to pass up.
Rarely do religious oriented pictures turn out good at all (remember 'NOAH'S ARK' with John Voight ?), so I don't know why this film wasn't released theatrically. The claymation is brilliant, but never acts as a gimmick either. I wish the flashbacks in the story were done in the same style. Adults will probably enjoy 'THE MIRACLE MAKER' even more than the kids, though it is a fine family film. It is accurate, realistic, and entertaining. If it makes way to video, see it.
Everyone should see this movie and realise truly and Biblically how this Man really was the greatest human being who ever lived- Jesus Christ.
The animation is excellent and the dialogue based mostly on the Bible gospels. The voices are famous people- like Ian Holm and Ralph Fiennes. They are all of different accents too, which i think is very good, because it shows that many people from different parts of the world were involved with making such a powerful movie.
Sit back with a good friend and enjoy a representation of the miracles and the wonder of Him.
The quality of the audio (5.1) and the animation was incredible. I was especially impressed by the expressions on the characters' faces, especially in their eyes. It was like we were watching real people, not animation.
We recommend you check it out if you get the chance; we're even thinking of getting it as gifts for friends and family.
I felt it took a unique approach to the gospel story, one which made it come alive more for the viewer. Pretty honest to the gospel story.
The animation was amazing and worth more than 10 out of ten for this one aspect.
It was a little strange though to hear strong Scots and Welsh accents among some of the characters.
On the whole this was one of the best cinema experiences of the year. Thoroughly recommend it.
This film has no state of the art effects. It provides no adrenalin rush of excitement. But it has been made by people whose belief in the enterprise shines through and as such provides all the satisfactions of any well-crafted work of art.