Friday, March 14, 2014

Son of God (2014)

Cast: Diego Morgado, Amber Rose Revah, Sebastian Knapp, Greg Hicks, Darwin Shaw, Roma Downey, Louise Delamere 

Director: Christopher Spencer

Synopsis: John, the last surviving disciple of Christ, is living in exile as he tells his story about the man who claimed to be God, Jesus Christ of Nazereth (Diego Morgado).  Closely following the Gospel of John, he begins “In the beginning” and proceeds to tell of the birth of Jesus of Nazereth.  He then follows Jesus’ life as he teaches and grows his ministry throughout Israel.  As Jesus’ ministry grows, tension grows as religious leaders become jealous of his increasing popularity and his bold teachings.  Political tension is also peaking as Israel remains under Roman occupation, and Jesus confronts both these tensions as he reveals his true identity and mission in Jerusalem. 

Reviewer’s Rating: 4/5 Reels


Son of God will most likely receive very mixed reviews because of the nature of the genre of the film and how closely it follows its source material.  It is a biopic of Jesus Christ of Nazareth that draws all of its material directly from the Gospel of John. Those familiar with the book and hoping the film will be faithful to it will not be disappointed.  The film takes most of the dialogue from the text and “plays it safe,” in the sense that there are no controversial additions to the story.

Those who are not familiar with the Gospels of Jesus might feel the story line of the film to be somewhat sporadic, skipping 30 years of Jesus’ life and showing many scenes of teachings and miracles with little explanation or character development.  Context is helpful here, noting that the source material was not a chronological biography, but a collection of stories told in such a way as to evoke a certain image of Jesus for a particular audience. 

Another reason for the sense of a sporadic plot is that many of the scenes were taken directly out of the TV mini-series, The Bible.  They were mixed with new scenes and edited together to focus on this story of Jesus’ three years of ministry before his death.  Overall, I believe the director was effective in weaving the different stories to create a unified thread throughout the film.  He accomplishes this by focusing on the rising tensions of the Jewish leaders towards Jesus and the growing Jewish disdain for their Roman occupation.

The film reaches a strong climax toward the end as Jesus reaches Jerusalem.  There is some high caliber acting on the part of Greg Hicks, playing Pilate, and Darwin Shaw, playing Peter.  Jesus also is played convincingly given the gravity of the role, with Portuguese actor Diego Morgado emphasizing the human side to Jesus.  At times Jesus seems almost surprised by his miracles, and at other times his horror over what he knows is coming can be felt by the viewer.

The film displays how great of an uproar Jesus had created, and how everyone around him was forced to acknowledge him and decide what they believed about him.  The film handles the major biblical events of the last supper, crucifixion, and resurrection very well and adds a convincing element by having the film told from the perspective of John who was left stranded on an island.

The cinematography uses lots of aerial shots to display the large crowds such as the feeding of the 5,000 and to display the long distances of traveling Jesus and his disciples walked.  The film is almost reminiscent of Lord of the Rings in the amount of montages of walking through mountains and countryside.  But the majority of the film moves along at a strong pace even with the length of the film running 2 hours and 18 minutes.  The film is also helped by a strong score from acclaimed film composer Hans Zimmer. Those expecting an action packed blockbuster or a racy and controversial drama will likely not get what they are looking for.  But for those genuinely interested in learning about the story of the most impactful man who has ever lived, Jesus Christ, they will enjoy seeing the story faithfully told on the big screen.   

By: Tyler Smith 

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