‘Son of God’ lacks imagination

Por­tuguese act­or Diogo Mor­gado stars in ‘Son of God.’

Shortly be­fore the re­lease of Son of God, #HotJe­sus went vir­al on Twit­ter. The hasht­ag refers to Por­tuguese former mod­el/act­or/Brad Pitt lookalike Diogo Mor­gado, star of Son of God. Need­less to say, Mor­gado is cer­tainly a tall and at­tract­ive Je­sus with his long locks and pearly white teeth. But he’s just about the only ap­peal­ing thing about the movie from a cine­mat­ic per­spect­ive.

If Son of God seems fa­mil­i­ar, it’s be­cause you may have seen it already, just not on the big screen. Around this time last year, a 10-part min­iser­ies called The Bible aired on The His­tory Chan­nel. It was a huge hit and the No. 1 cable en­ter­tain­ment tele­cast of the year. Son of God cuts down the 10 hours to two, fo­cus­ing only on the story of Je­sus’ life, and adds a few de­leted scenes not shown on TV.

Since I hadn’t seen the min­iser­ies last year, I have no idea how much of the film is new and how much is ad­ded foot­age. I’d ima­gine not much is new about it. One par­tic­u­larly not­able as­pect of the film is the re­mov­al of all foot­age re­lated to Satan since the mini-series re­ceived a lot of neg­at­ive press when it was real­ized the act­or re­sembled Pres­id­ent Barack Obama.

Son of God may be best saved for Sunday school class les­son. Dir­ect­or Chris­toph­er Spen­cer plays it a little too safe and sac­char­ine. The be­gin­ning feels dis­join­ted, like someone wanted to check off a list of Je­sus’ greatest ac­com­plish­ments. He mi­ra­cu­lously catches fish to the amazement of Peter. He mul­ti­plies the fish to feed thou­sands. He walks across wa­ter. He brings Laz­arus, a dead man, back to life. So just in case you didn’t know, the movie makes it clear that this Je­sus guy is pretty awe­some and has gained many fol­low­ers. He’s ba­sic­ally like a rock star.

I al­most ex­pec­ted his fol­low­ers to chant “Je­sus” while wav­ing their hands from side to side. However, Son of God du­ti­fully stays faith­ful to its source ma­ter­i­al, so there was no sil­li­ness al­lowed.

The in­tens­ity picks up a bit as time marches along and Je­sus is per­se­cuted for be­ing a false proph­et. The Last Sup­per scene is par­tic­u­larly heart-tug­ging when Je­sus pro­claims that one of his dis­ciples would turn on him. Je­sus is put on tri­al and con­demned to die. When it came to the cru­ci­fix­ion, I heard lots of sniffles dur­ing my screen­ing, and I ima­gine there were very few dry eyes in the house. Thank­fully, the scenes are not overly graph­ic, but they are vivid enough to get the point across.

Aside from Mor­gado, the cast is a bit bland and made up of for­get­table un­knowns, with the ex­cep­tion of Roma Downey as Je­sus’ moth­er Mary. The Touched by an An­gel act­ress pro­duced the min­iser­ies and movie with her hus­band Mark Bur­nett (pro­du­cer from Sur­viv­or and The Voice).

The story of Je­sus’ life is mov­ing and in­spir­a­tion­al. It al­ways has been and it al­ways will be. Chris­ti­ans who see Son of God will find it a per­fectly re­spect­ful re­tell­ing, though I don’t know if it will per­suade any non-be­liev­ers. However, the movie isn’t very ima­gin­at­ive and is noth­ing more than sat­is­fact­ory from an en­ter­tain­ment per­spect­ive. ••

Movie Grade: B-

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus