ADcoverGrade: B+/B
Entire family: No
2015, 12 episodes (600 min.), Color
Unrated (would be PG-13 for graphic violence)
MGM
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Featured audio: English DTS-HDMA 5.1
Bonus features: C+
Trailer
Amazon link

The New Testament gets the TV miniseries treatment in A.D.: The Bible Continues, a less sprawling 2015 sequel to the gap-filled 2013 miniseries, The Bible.

What immediately impresses is that A.D. presents a believable ancient-world reality, despite slightly modernized language and direction that includes all sorts of contemporary techniques. It’s really well made, with great production values. While previous biblical movies and miniseries stayed with unobtrusive camerawork and an overly respectful treatment of the material often handcuffed directors, the five (Ciaran Donnelly, Tony Mitchell, Brian Kelly, Rob Evans, Paul Wilmshurst) who direct these 12 one-hour episodes use such devices as quick cuts, extreme close-ups, character flashbacks, walk-and-talks, and cross-cut scenes so that A.D. feels contemporary but still looks convincingly ancient. Filmed in Morocco using CGI to enhance the illusion, A.D. also features some gorgeous cinematography (it looks terrific in HD).

What’s more, you never find yourself thinking that these are actors wearing costumes, and for that you can credit the casting department. For the most part A.D. is constructed like a contemporary dramatic miniseries and only infrequently lapses into the kind of heavens-open-and-angels-sing schlock-and-awe that characterized the old-school biblical epics. Also missing (and thankfully so) is the gratuitous sex and violence that now seems requisite for “edgy” TV miniseries. A.D. only includes violence that seems necessary to the storytelling and manages to find its edge without going any further. Some, for example, might think it edgy that Mary Magdalene (Chipo Chung) is ethnic in this production, that the humanity of Jesus (Juan Pablo Di Pace) is emphasized, or that the political machinations involving the Roman governor Pilate (Vincent Regan), the Hebrew high priest Caiaphas (Richard Coyle), and various emperors are worthy of House of Cards episode.

ADscreenDespite a complicated plot in later episodes, A.D. flows well—much better than The Bible—starting with Jesus’ crucifixion (yes, the filmmakers assume a certain knowledge of subject matter on the part of the audience) and continuing with the backlash and the early activities of Jesus’ disciples, as told in the Book of Acts.    More