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'Son of God' nails the execution but misses the emotion by a mile

Son of God

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Any time you dip into the stories of the Bible in order to make a movie, it is at best a dicey proposition if only because these stories have been done countless times before and cannot bring anything all that new to the table. "Son of God" which is cribbed and cut together from the ten hour mini-series "The Bible" that aired on the History channel is a decent and competent retelling of the story of Jesus of Nazareth but just plays out like a Coles notes story just making sure to hit the bullet points without being concerned for any sort of narrative structure.

A decent Jesus but he was still going through the motions
A decent Jesus but he was still going through the motions
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"Son of God" for all intents and purposes is the life story of Jesus (Diogo Morgado) is told from his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection.

Ultimately, "Son of God" plays it all a little too straight as it tries to force a dramatic recreation that would play well enough in a documentary as a dramatic narrative.

Co-writer and Director Christopher Spencer whose background is in TV documentaries doesn't translate well into the narrative form as the entire film feels like it is a recreation that is supposed to have narration over it as it jumps from bullet point to bullet point in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. With little to no dramatic flow, we bear witness to the various events in his life, but there is just no genuine character development. If we don't have any investment in Judas or Jesus as characters in a film, the dramatic punch of Judas betraying Jesus just gets lost in the shuffle. It looks great and is certainly well assembled and I can see how seeing these stories visualized can have a dramatic effect for the devoutly religious, but from a filmmaking standpoint not enough is done to make us invest in the story and it has been done better and more effectively several times before this one.

Cast mostly with relative unknowns, it isn't a film where anyone gets to standout in any way. Diogo Morgado does well enough as Jesus of Nazareth, other than producer Roma Downey playing Mary his mother only Sebastian Knapp as John who served as narrator got to bring some character and make the part at least somewhat compelling.

Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray were top notch and the special features on this combo pack release include some behind the scenes featurettes and a PSA for faith based charity work.

At the end of the day, if they had just labelled "Son of God" as a dramatic retelling or recreation in the frame of a documentary, I could have given this a pass and it may have even evoke some genuine thought and emotion on the issues of religion, however as a straight narrative piece of filmmaking it just doesn't work.

1 out of 5 stars.

"Son of God" is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand from all major providers.