HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Son of God
HTS Overall Score:77
“Son of God” is not as much its own individually thought up film, but rather the life of Jesus taken from the epic 10 hour miniseries “The Bible”, which took the nation by storm last year. Thought up by a husband and wife duo Mark Burnett (one of the minds behind survivor) and Roma Downey (The star of the old “Touched by an Angel” series). A labor of love and care they brought the Bible to Cable television in a miniseries that surprised a lot of people by actually, of all things, being good. With “The Bible” being a condensed version of the book from beginning to end “Son of God” is the later portion of Jesus life the year or so before and during his execution by the Roman and Jewish leaders. The film is cut from the giant series and does show SOME backstory, but the majority is his entrance to the City of Jerusalem and the events of that final Passover. I haven’t seen ALL of “the Bible” so this portion of the material was unseen by myself until this viewing of “Son of God” so I went in with a clean palate. I was worried when the “The Bible” was announced and actually pleasantly surprised, as was many of you, by how decent it actually was. With this being a focused excerpt from the film I had decently high hopes and wasn’t let down.
We all know the basic story. Jesus was born to a virgin woman named Mary (actually played by Roma Downey whom you might not recognize as she’s aged quite a bit from “Touched by an Angel”) and grows up to be a teacher of men. He gathers 12 disciples to his side and preaches his word until he has to go to Jerusalem, where he is to be sacrificed as atonement for the sins of the world, fulfilling the old prophecies and ushering in a new testament. The story is narrated by the apostle John (Sebastian Knapp) and begins with a basic set of cut scenes from the miniseries, laying out the backstory for those unfamiliar. The early miracles and the gathering of the disciples is all told within the first 30 minutes of the film, a bit rushed, but it is a bit necessary unless they wanted to make the film over 3 hours long. After that 30 minute mark the film settles down to a slower pace as we see Jesus teaching amidst the people and garnering much hate and opposition from the Pharisees. For the most part, the hypocritical Pharisees are just ticked off that Jesus is taking their thunder, doing miracles that astound them, but angered that he rebukes them for their ways. The humiliation at their hypocrisy is evident when the adulterous woman kneels before them and their hate and blood lust is seen, and then dashed to the stones when Jesus confronts them and asks them who have never sinned to cast the first stone.
Although the lower Pharisees in the outer provinces are just a nuisance, the real threat comes from Nicodemus (Simon Kunz) and the High Priest Caiaphas (Adrian Schiller). The high priests are simply terrified of the Romans and what may happen if Jesus followers throw a rebellion. Blind to his teachings their only concern is squashing this man who is in grave danger of bringing down the wrath of their Roman oppressors. At this point and time, the Isiah prophecy is construed by the Jews as the Messiah being a conqueror, one who would drive the Romans from the land. A Messiah that comes to take away sins, and not the yoke of oppression wasn’t in the fore front of their minds, so the leadership didn’t exactly take Jesus seriously. Throwing religious questions at him left in right in an effort to make him stumble and lose favor with the people, they are met with knowledge and opposition that they didn’t expect. This causes Caiaphas to find other methods of dealing with him. If he can’t get him by crook, he has to get him by hook and with the help of Judas Iscariot and 30 pieces of silver, they arrest Jesus, and bring him before Pontius Pilate and manipulate the Roman prefect into Crucifying him (a punishment and death so heinous that the Romans wouldn’t allow their own citizens to fall victim to such a death by Roman law).
The film isn’t the most fantastically acted in the world. There’s some overacting in it and the actors chosen aren’t A-list actors and directed by Steven Spielberg if you know what I mean. With that being said the movie does its job quite nicely and gave me a pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed Diogo Morgado’s portrayal of Jesus, he gave him certain approachability that many of the Jesus type films tend to wash over. Our Lord was supposed to be a man who walked among the tax collectors, the common folk, had drinks and dinner with friends, yet many times he’s portrayed as a bit unapproachable or melancholy. Diogo gives him a bright and cheerful personality, one who sits down and has a glass of wine with his friends, loves to play some kickball with the children and wouldn’t mind hanging out on a Friday night in between sermons. Diogo balances this out quite nicely with the more serious aspects of the film, where he’s called to dig deep and get down to business, especially in his final hours.
As with all Biblical films, being a Christian myself, I tend to get a little bit nitpicky. It’s like those of us who are computer techs rolling our eyes and nitpicking every movie where the hero hacks into Nato with an macbook pro and a wireless card. We’re familiar with the material, intimately so I might add, and every little adjustment, or flaw is picked up. Some of the embellishments that happened are perfectly within reason. We don’t know every work that the secondary characters said, and some of the situations have to be extrapolated from a couple chapters in the Bible. Those are easy to go with. Others are not as perfect, or they take a non-traditional interpretation of what happened (e.g., Jesus vanishing in front of them instead of literally ascending into the clouds or his adaptation of Lazerous rising from the dead). There’s a few times where they blend two different scripture instances together to save time and get the words into the scene, rather than stick EXACTLY how it unfolded in the text. However, for the majority of the movie it’s kept very accurate. The story has no points in it where I got offended or though “well this is garbage!”. Instead we have a decently acted story of Jesus last year on earth. One that isn’t as gut wrenchingly violent and aggressive as “Passion of the Christ” and isn’t as meticulous as “The Jesus film”, but still is very entertaining for those of you who are fans of Biblical films.
Rated PG-13 for intense and bloody depiction of The Crucifixion, and for some sequences of violence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=20074[/img]“Son of God” is presented in with a 2.35:1 AVC transfer, unlike the formatted for TV 1.78:1 that the “Bible Miniseries” was presented in, but besides the formatting retains much the same video encode. The image looks amazingly good for a majority of the time, but the limitations of being a made for cable production limits it from being great. A large percentage of the film has excellent detail and shows off the landscape, but when the CGI landscapes are put up on screen there is a layer of softness that comes from the lower budget CGI and the detail definitely takes a hit during those sequences. Colors are muted and sandy brown, but there is plenty of color when needed. When Jesus walks on water or feeds the 5 thousand the greens and blues come through nice and bright. Black levels are good, but nothing fantastic and the darker scenes show some noise that contrasts the crystal clear outdoor daylight shots. Overall not a bad picture, it’s a cable miniseries basically and the budget didn’t allow for a “Hobbit” type presentation but there’s nothing at all wrong with it outside those limitations.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=20082[/img]The audio is surprisingly decent for a dialogue focused track. There’s not a lot of instances where the track can really unleash itself, but there is an impressive amount of ambiance given to the rear speakers and the dialogue is well balanced against the roars of the crowds, or the rushing of water swirling over a drowning Peter. There isn’t a lot of LFE in the film, but there are a few instances where it comes in loud and clear. There’s a little bit of weight as the fisherman are out to see, or the slamming of a door, but nothing that’s going to shake the foundations. However, when Jesus gives his famed “It is finished” line and the Temple cloth is torn the rumble comes out to play and really wakes up the neighbor. I was honestly impressed with the track, as it surpasses most made for cable type audio tracks and was truly film worthy. Very enjoyable and a good 5.1 DTS-HD MA track.
• "Son of God" Reborn
- 30 Minute Docu-Story Christians Today
- Jesus for the New Generation
• Making of Video (includes Spanish version)
• "Son of God" Set
• Compassion Video
It doesn’t have the sheer visceral feeling of “The Passion of the Christ” and it isn’t as perfectly detailed as “The Jesus Film”, but “Son of God” and it’s more comprehensive brother “The Bible” miniseries raises themselves head and shoulders above many of the other Christian films out there. While I love a good Christian film, many of them wallow in the mire of horrendous acting and over dramatized and clichéd storylines. It’s nice to see something that was obviously a labor of love, and actually can stand among Hollywood’s tiers instead of relegated to the extreme niche audience of those who watch the above mentioned fare. It’s not perfectly acted, and it takes some liberties with the text, but nothing offensive and actually quite enjoyable. Definitely recommended for at least a watch for those of you who enjoy Biblical films.
Starring: Diogo Morgado, Amber Rose Revah, Sebastian Knapp
Directed by: Christopher Spencer
Written by: Richard Bedser, Christopher Spencer
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 138 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: June 3rd, 2014
Buy Son of God Blu-ray on Amazon
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