Last year’s ‘The Bible’ miniseries on the History Channel was such a hit, the executive-producing husband and wife team Mark Burnett (Survivor) and Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel) bring the story of Jesus to the big screen in ‘Son of God.’ Downey also plays Mary, Jesus’ mother in the film. It is an earnest and reverent effort that is sure to please its target demo – Christian audiences. The story is helped along by a powerful musical score by the renowned German composer Hans Zimmer. Many directors have tackled the story of Jesus including Franco Zefferelli’s ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ and Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ Director Christopher Spencer’s ‘Son of God’ is definitely a less controversial film than its predecessors.
The role of Jesus Christ has to be one of the most difficult for an actor to play but Diogo Morgado’s performance is believable and noteworthy. He embodies Jesus. He is so charismatic that you never question how such an important figure could gather so many followers. He’s treated like a rockstar. The film remains true to the gospel. Jesus goes through birth, moves to his ministry, then through his crucifixion and resurrection. Since it’s condensed from the miniseries, the opening feels like a greatest hits montage but you have to hand it to Robert Hall for doing a commendable job on editing. One flaw is repetitive CGI shots of the Temple in Jerusalem that is obviously a scale model. However, Jesus’ miracles are emotionally more powerful not relying on heavy-handed special effects.
The film really hits it mark in the third act when Jesus reaches Jerusalem for Passover. When Jesus proclaims himself the Messiah, he is accused of blasphemy by Caiaphas (Adrian Schiller) as well as other Jewish leaders. It becomes suspenseful during the Last Supper. Jesus is arrested and brought before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate (Greg Hicks) who tries and authorizes the crucifixion of Jesus. Many know the story so this is just an overview of events covered by the film. Hicks is good as the Roman prefect. He shows the dilemma of trying to avoid a revolt and keeping Caesar happy. It doesn’t help matters that his wife (Louise Delamere) tells him she has a premonitory dream. He finds nothing treasonable in Jesus’ actions and so asks the people of Jerusalem if he should be released from custody. The crucifixion and resurrection culminate the film. It’s emotionally resonating.
The virtually unknown cast works well for the production. All the major roles are done with grit and passion. One of the most profound aspects about this telling of the story is that no one responsible for it is particularly happy about the execution. They all see something special in him and don’t treat him like a false prophet. However, the political ramifications of what he represented were so threatening, the Jewish leaders felt like they had no other alternative. It is important to note that the scenes of Satan were cut from the film. There was a controversy brewing when the actor portraying Satan had an uncanny resemblance to Barack Obama. Nevertheless, Hall successfully edits the 10-hour miniseries into a compelling 2-hour movie for the big screen.
A barrage of religious-themed movies is coming to theaters soon. ‘Noah,’ the story of the flood stars Russell Crowe as the title character, ‘Heaven is for Real’ about a four-year-old boy who experiences heaven during surgery and ‘Exodus’ that stars Christian Bale playing Moses. Whether you’re a believer or not, the Bible has the greatest stories ever told and ‘Son of God’ is an honest account of Jesus’ story. Check out the official trailer http://youtu.be/WcIXCok9HPg.