10 March 2014

Movie Review: "Son of God"

Rated: PG-13 for intense and bloody depiction of The Crucifixion, and for some sequences of violence.
Starring: Sebastian Knapp, Diogo Morgado, and Amber Rose Revah
Released: February 28, 2014 (theaters)
Synopsis: Millions of people around the world follow Him...but how much do you know about Him? Born in humble circumstances, Jesus of Nazareth is both a powerful teacher and a worker of miracles, and people everywhere adore Him.  However, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law are regularly angered by His teachings, and conspire against Him, sentencing Him to death on a cross.  Just when they think they've seen the last of Him, everyone is in for a tremendous surprise...one that changed the world forever.
From Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the producers of History Channel's The Bible.

Artistic Merit

Plot: 5/5
Any Christian will tell you that the Bible is the greatest book ever, and that the Gospels are the most important part.  Even so, just because the story is based on a wonderful piece of literature doesn't make the film outstanding; how many times have fans of a best-selling novel walked out of the celluloid adaptation sulking like Marvin the Paranoid Android? Still, Son of God is a well-made film version of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.  Instead of using every single story from the Gospels, the makers brought together some of the most important parts, in order to show the essence of who Jesus was and what He did.  The last verse of John's Gospel says, "Jesus also did many other things.  If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written." (NLT) If the Bible doesn't even have everything Jesus did...why should this movie?

Production Values: 5/5
It's been a long time since a movie has affected me emotionally like this one did.  The agony that Jesus, his followers, and even his mother go through during his life and crucifixion are amazingly portrayed.  The special effects were outstanding, and the soundtrack was great, especially a surprising performance of Mark Lowry's "Mary, Did You Know?" by mainstream artist Cee-Lo Green.  Nothing to complain about in this department.

Faithfulness to the Original Story: 3/5
The crucifixion is wonderfully portrayed, and that part couldn't have been done any better.  However, some discrepancies between the other events shown in the movie and what the Bible actually says exist.  For example:
  • In the film, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead by kissing him; John 11 says that, after Jesus' followers rolled the stone away from the tomb, He called out, "Lazarus, come forth!"
  • Important verses about baptism--Mark 16:16, for example--were left out completely.
  • The way Jesus reveals who will betray him at the Last Supper is completely different; instead of dipping His hand into the bowl at the same time, Judas is force-fed a piece of bread.
  • Mary Magdalene is seen as one of Jesus' constant followers, in pretty much every scene with the disciples except for the Last Supper; the Bible never explicitly states that to be the case, though some believe that to be implied.
Moral Content

Positive Elements: 5/5
If it's a faithful representation of the story of Jesus...wouldn't that be as positive as it gets?

Sex: 4.5/5
A woman is caught in adultery and brought to Jesus, as described in John 8:1-11.  A preview before the movie features a sex scene.

Nudity: 4/5
Men--including Jesus--are seen in loincloths.  A flashback from The Bible miniseries shows Adam and Eve nude from the shoulders up.  A woman is seen wrapped in only a bed sheet, though it seems the makers went out of their way to make that as non-sultry as possible.  A baby is seen naked, though his private areas are obscured.

Language: 5/5

Violence: 2/5
Though not as graphic or intense as The Passion of the Christ, violence still abounds.  The crucifixion scene is rather intense and bloody, though not gory.  A scene done in shadow shows a man thrusting his sword into someone's side.  The flashbacks at the beginning feature a scene where a guy hits someone in the head with a rock, leaving a gash.  One scene involves people being massacred; it's mostly implied, though we do see the dead bodies left behind with some slight blood.  Another scene shows a wrecked chariot being overturned, killing a child.  This one definitely isn't kid stuff.

Drugs: 4.5/5
Jesus and the disciples drink wine at the Last Supper.

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 1/5
The crucifixion scene alone is likely too much for most young kids and even some teens and adults.

Other: 4.5/5
A man is seen coughing up a piece of bread.

Final Score: 4/5
What a movie! This is the first Christian movie I've ever seen on the "big screen"; though I've watched plenty of others on DVD, seeing this in larger-than-life format was a big treat.  As great as it is, I can't give it a perfect score, only because of the changes that were made from the original story.  It's one thing to do it to Harry Potter; it's another to do it to the Bible, God's holy Word.  Still, I have a feeling Christians will still be talking about this film for years to come...

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