Anthony's Film Review
Son of God (2014)
The story of Jesus told in a straightforward drama film...
Given how the religion of Christianity has captivated much of the world for over 2,000 years and how the Bible is filled with many stories, it is no surprise that Hollywood would produce and release some films based on familiar biblical tales. For example, we've had the 1950s classic The Ten Commandments, the 1998 animated film The Prince of Egypt, and Mel Gibson's controversial 2004 film The Passion of the Christ. Years later, in 2014, we would see the release of Son of God, which depicts the life and death of Jesus, the most important of the biblical figures. This is a film that you'd think would be made much earlier, given the age of this story. Then again, when you have something as delicate as Christianity (or any other religion for that matter), it's perhaps no surprise that many filmmakers wish to shy away from such a project.
Before I proceed to my review of Son of God, here's a disclaimer and a little background info. I myself am not Christian, or even a religious person. I have not read the Bible, and I only know bits and pieces about the story of Jesus from various sources over the years. That does not mean that I will judge the story or question the validity or plausibility of certain events told in the Bible. For this movie review, I am accepting the story as Christians understand it, and I shall focus on the cinematic presentation itself, just like I would with any other film I see.
Son of God begins with a quick introduction that provides glimpses of the familiar elements of the Old Testament, including Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, Noah's ark during a great flood, Moses parting the Red Sea, and David defeating Goliath with a sling and stone. It's simply a prelude to the next significant event: the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary. From there, the film jumps into the adulthood of Jesus. He wanders into land occupied by Jews who are ruled over by Romans. There, he performs various miracles, like helping a paralyzed man walk and providing extra food to the hungry masses, and gathers devoted followers, like Peter, John, and Matthew.
But even as his spiritual power draws many people to him, Jesus also develops two sets of enemies. One is the established religious order that cannot accept Jesus as the true Messiah. The other is the governing Roman body, including the leader Pontius Pilate, who fears chaos and disorder if the Jews suddenly rise up because of Jesus. The conflict reaches a breaking point when these enemies are ready to stop Jesus, and may be able to do so thanks to Judas, the follower of Jesus who ultimately betrays him for a bag of silver.
The first thought I had while watching the movie was how fairly simple the dialogue is. Usually, I love films that have meaningful and deep dialogue, but that's not the case here. To be fair, the Bible may not have been written in a way that would make that possible, not without taking creative liberties that could possibly be seen as sacrilegious in the eyes of Christians. Still, there's another thing I noticed: The dialect sounds more modern in many cases. While I didn't mind the film being spoken in English so that it's accessible to audiences, I couldn't help but see British actors playing Roman characters while speaking in British accents, without even a tiny effort to sound a little more archaic. Also, when Jesus is on the cross, he asks God "Why have you forsaken me?" instead of something like "Why hast thou forsaken me?" But that's just me.
Criticisms aside, there were things I liked about the movie Son of God. For instance, Jesus is clearly a figure who is loving and compassionate, even to those who dislike him. Certainly, we can take away valuable life lessons from that. Plus, the film might seem a tiny bit dull in the first half, but it does get better afterwards. The moment Judas delivers a kiss to Jesus, things take a darker turn and get more interesting. The Crucifixion of Jesus as well as his Resurrection are done nicely here.
Unless you are a nitpicky person whose standard for a good film depends on the last film handling the same subject matter, Son if God is a decent drama about the life of Jesus. I give credit to the production design, direction, and cast, especially Diogo Morgado who plays Jesus of Nazareth, for bringing the story to life. This is a film that should appeal to both Christians who like to see film adaptations of the Bible and to non-Christians who are curious about Jesus but do not wish to consult the Bible. Either way, it can help one appreciate a long renowned religious figure.
For more information about Son of God, visit the Internet Movie Database.