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The Second Coming
The Second Coming
Actors: Annabelle Apsion, Denise Black, Christopher Eccleston, William Travis, Ace Bhatti
Director: Adrian Shergold
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Special Interests, Television, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2004     2hr 25min

In the mini-series opener, Christopher Eccleston stars as Steve Baxter, a man who is found incoherent by the English roadside, mumbling that he's the Son of God. His old school friend, Judith (played by The Full Monty?s Le...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Annabelle Apsion, Denise Black, Christopher Eccleston, William Travis, Ace Bhatti
Director: Adrian Shergold
Creators: Tony Cranstoun, Ann Harrison-Baxter, Nicola Shindler, Russell T. Davies
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Special Interests, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Religion, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Religion & Spirituality, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Shout Factory Theatr
Format: DVD - Color,Anamorphic
DVD Release Date: 02/17/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 2hr 25min
Screens: Color,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Thought provoking drama
mathew | Austin, TX USA | 09/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When TV drama is this intelligent, I suppose it's only to be expected that many people will miss the point or misinterpret it. The movie is not an ironic joke or an atheist manifesto. It's made quite clear that Steve Baxter is the messiah, the literal son of god made mortal in human flesh, with all the imperfections and limitations that implies. Yes, he's angry and offends people--just like the last messiah was angry and offended people.

Whether you agree with the final choice made by the protagonists or not, is not the point. As we see in the epilogue, even five years later they aren't sure whether they made the right choice themselves. The purpose of this TV movie is not to tell everyone what to think or to decide, it's to spark debate, to get people to ask questions.

Yes, it's flawed. Ironic, really, eh? The ending simply can't keep up the tension of the middle of the story--but then, once judgement day has been announced, you can hardly expect it to. Still, a great piece of drama. The sad thing is that this movie could never be shown on US TV, and it almost didn't make it to UK TV."
A New Hope
Padderz | London, UK | 10/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For all the theological babble the premise behind this TV drama is simple. What if God was one of us? Well his son anyway.

I saw this on TV about a year ago, and the fact that I am writing about it now means that for some reason it has stayed with me.

Watch it if you can and make you own mind up."
Compelling Drama from Maverick Writer-Producer
E.A. Week | Boston, MA USA | 12/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This 2003 UK made-for-TV movie attempts to deconstruct Western sacred myth, plays around with established religious dogma, and hopefully shakes up people's worldview a bit. The Second Coming does fall flat here and there, but it (mostly) hits the high bar that it's set for itself. This is the kind of thought-provoking drama that US viewers have to import, as most American networks wouldn't touch the subject matter with the proverbial ten-foot pole.

Steve Baxter (Christopher Eccelston) is in every sense a nobody: an ordinary doofy-looking bloke living in Manchester, England, working in a video store. A scene at the beginning of the film establishes his painful lack of success with women, and he's barely begun to work up the courage to approach the one woman who really interests him: his newly divorced mate, Judy (Lesley Sharp). Their just-budding romance is interrupted when out of the clear blue, he's hit with a revelation that he is, in fact, the son of God.

After wandering on a moor for forty days, Steve returns to Manchester and begins announcing who he is. His friends worry that he's gone off his rocker, but he immediately attracts the interest of the Vatican, as well as a handful of demons. To convince people of his divine bona fides, Steve stages a miracle in a football stadium, and once he has the attention of the world's media, announces that humanity has five days to produce a third testament. He doesn't know specifically who'll write it or what form it will take, only that he'll know it when he sees it.

A lot of The Second Coming deals with notions of faith and doubt, belief and skepticism. People's reactions to Steve are shaped very much by their spiritual outlook--not only in his circle of acquaintances but in the world at large. There are wonderful mock news reports of people rioting and protesting and even killing themselves over his revelations, and it all rings very easy to believe, given the current state of the world. Some people react with violence and hysteria, while others completely brush off Steve as a crackpot. It's those people in the middle, not sure of what to believe, whose reactions are the most interesting. Steve's dual humanity/ divinity provides a nice thread throughout the story: he can work miracles, but he's also an ordinary guy who needs to eat and sleep and use the bathroom.

The script (Russell T Davies) is for the most part tightly focused and moves at a fast pace, with good development for all the main players. The dialogue is razor-sharp and thought-provoking and very funny, in a dry, ironic English way. Davies doesn't hold back many punches in his exploration of what's wrong with humanity: greed, apathy and laziness, lack of concern for others, violence, intolerance. Conventional, organized religion takes quite a beating. Nobody is mocked for having faith, but the overwhelming message of the story is that people have to take responsibility for themselves (one excellent exchange of dialogue points out that we don't need a miracle to cure world hunger; people can do that themselves--if they want to). There's also a refreshing emphasis on the importance of free will.

The drama builds nicely to a fairly gut-wrenching denouement, but the final ten or so minutes disappoint. The resolution is apt to anger a lot of viewers, but it's not offensive so much it's pat. The movie spends two-plus hours delving into the complexity and ambiguity of good and evil, then offers a solution that seems absurdly simplistic. Such a terrific buildup deserves a more satisfying payoff.

Another problem is that the demons don't have much to do, apart from sowing dissent. They have a nice, creepy buildup--and their prime mover, Johnny Tyler (Mark Benton) is a multifaceted embodiment of that soul-draining evil, self-pity--but their motives, when revealed, seem tacked-on and spurious. There's a suggestion that their primary modus operandi is fostering despair, but this idea isn't developed to its full potential. There's also a subplot involving Steve's mortal father Frank (Peter Armitage) that serves no purpose except killing off a supporting character; anyway, Steve's otherworldly paternity doesn't add much to the story.

Despite these quibbles, The Second Coming is well worth checking out, particularly for the performances of its cast. Every actor in this production does knockout, class-A work. Eccleston rules the show as Steve: warm, funny, vulnerable, giddy with his new discoveries, overwhelmed by his role and sense of responsibility. He puts across every emotion wonderfully, with terrific body language and expressions, rarely missing a note or overplaying anything. He has a great foil in Lesley Sharp, whose portrayal of Judy is wholly sympathetic: her love for Steve never wavers, despite her doubts about his mission. Again and again, it's Judy who asks the big, important questions, and Judy who cuts through the confusion to find the answers--even when the final truth comes to her at great personal cost. Ahsen Bhatti does good, solid work as Steve's best mate, Pete. In a nice touch, nobody in the cast is physically stunning, which makes a lot of sense given the film's earthy, warts-and-all view of humanity.

The directing (Adrian Shergold) is crisp and economical and incredibly effective, and Murray Gold's modern, edgy score adds a lot of dimension. The look of the film is mostly gritty, urban-industrial realism: dirt and garbage and old buildings and hole-in-the-wall pubs. The production has a distinctive look and feeling and energy that enhances the whole notion of God-among-the-ordinary. The film has a mood and vibe that immediately sells its world to the viewer--not an easy thing to do, but it looks effortless here.

I would recommend this film with only the reservation that some may find the ideas it presents offensive; I'd suggest a rental before a purchase. The ending is a letdown, but there's plenty of strengths to outweigh the weaknesses. If you're looking for a challenging and thought-provoking piece of entertainment, I'd recommend giving The Da Vinci Code a pass and checking out The Second Coming instead."
A brilliant, haunting film
ROBERT W. SAINTJOHN | San Francisco, CA | 03/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Here's one for "Doctor Who" fans. Why, you may ask? Because it was written by Russell T. Davies, writer and executive producer of the new DW series due from the BBC in 2005, *and* stars the fantastic Christopher Eccleston, who will portray the new Doctor.But don't just see it for that. See it for the fact that it is a truly fantastic premise, so well executed, with an ending that will haunt you for days and weeks."