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Review: Despite its made-for-TV roots, ‘Son of God’ will inspire believers

On Film | Grant StevensNearly 10 years to the day since the release of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” a new movie about the life of Jesus arrives in theaters. “Son of God” is the grand finale to the highly acclaimed History Channel series “The Bible.”
Clocking in at just over two hours, “Son of God” portrays the life of Jesus as told in the book of John (with help from the other gospels).
Overall, it is a powerful film, though no one will mistake it as an artistic masterpiece. If you’re searching for an Oscar frontrunner, look elsewhere.
“Son of God” was created from footage shot for “The Bible” and it never fully shakes its made-for-TV roots. It is a good movie, though it features unspectacular production, pacing, acting, editing and special effects.
There are, however, plenty of goosebump-delivering moments, especially for followers of Christ.
The film opens with the passage from John’s gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The speech happens over a thundering score from Hans Zimmer and an incredible montage of events leading to Jesus’ birth.
As the crucifixion approached, I heard sniffles among the audience of preachers, church leaders and media treated to an advance screening. It was touching to see people raising hands in joy upon Mary’s discovery of the empty tomb. More goosebumps.
If you avoided “The Passion of the Christ” because of the violence and wish you could have seen it sans gore, “Son of God” is the answer. The film carries a milder PG-13 rating. Though it also delivers a bloody crucifixion and a few scenes of violence, they hardly approach those in the R-rated “Passion.”
Portraying Jesus, Diogo Morgado looks a bit like a Portuguese Brad Pitt. I had a hard time taking him seriously as the Savior of the World since he could also be modeling jeans for Abercrombie & Fitch. Though he comes across as a bit mystical in isolated moments, overall Morgado gives a balanced performance.
As with most biblical movies, there are moments when you’ll think, “Wait a second, that’s not right.” Jesus’ calling of Peter is a bit changed, and when Pilate asks Jesus if he is the Messiah, Jesus’ “You say that I am” from Luke 22 is changed to a more defiant “I am,” underscored with super epic, low, thundering string music. Overall, though, these changes don’t distract much from the movie’s message.
Jesus was both man and God. For me, nothing drives home his humanity quite like seeing him on film. “Son of God” could help even the heartiest Christian gain a fresh perspective. It isn’t a masterpiece, but as a Jesus movie it is right on the money. See it.

GRANT STEVENS is a member of the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.

Filed under: Headlines - Secondary Reviews

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