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David A.R. White,
I watch a lot of Bible-based movies, some loved, others loathed.
The three movies of the Visual Bible productions are faithful to the source, and this is second only to the Gospel of John, in my opinion. So, I'll address my problems with it first, then move to why I can still say I love this movie.
Billing Jennifer O'Neill as "starring" is more than misleading. She spends less than four minutes on screen in this 193 minute movie, hardly a starring role. James Brolin seems a bit disconnected from the impetuous, passionate, foot-in-mouth Peter we find in scripture, but his isn't a bad performance, just short of my expectations.
The real stars are Henry Arnold as Saul/Paul, and Dean Jones as the aged Luke, as he narrates his book to passengers on a ship, which we find in the end arrives Rome where Paul is now under house arrest.
A huge plus for me is Bruce Marchiano's very brief camera time; I didn't like his portrayal of Jesus in the Visual "Gospel of Matthew". If you didn't find his silliness unsettling in Matthew, then this won't be the same bonus for you.
When you're using the Bible as your script (I love that concept), the ensemble must be strong enough to make it believable, and this cast does exactly that. I watch for facial expressions and other nuances to know how well an actor is connecting with his character, and most do this with great ease and success. I don't find Francesco Quinn credited for his role as Stephen, the first Christian martyr described in the Bible, but his performance is outstanding.
Any flourishes added in this film are a definite plus, and they're all limited to physical events, and in no way detract from this story of nascent Christianity.
If you're Christian, you'll love the allegiance to the Bible. If you're a more casual watcher, it might encourage you to read the book of Acts. It's simply a worthy movie.
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