Son of God (2014)

Son of GodReleased: February 28, 2014. Directed by: Christopher Spencer. Starring: Diogo Morgado, Amber Rose Revah, Sebastian Knapp. Runtime: 138 min.

“Son of God” is one of those films where one’s personal enjoyment is determined by their faith. That’s because this film depicts the life story of Jesus Christ, from his birth, to his teachings, to his crucifixion and ultimate resurrection. For the majority of people who believe in God, they’ll like this. The reason critics would see this is because they’re paid to, regardless of their faith. What brought me to see this film? Glad you asked imaginary voice in my head, because I believe in God and Jesus, and I try to see all of the films that I can muster.

Even though I do believe in the teachings of the Bible, this film isn’t that enjoyable to me – making me a case against the “if you believe in God, you’ll enjoy this film” argument. I think this is a poorly done, awful movie. I just hope God doesn’t smite me while I’m writing this review. If I’m still writing, it must mean I must be alive. Anyway, the film is just decently acted with only a few believable performances. The pacing skips jarringly ahead to his birth, to when he has followers – only his “recruiting sessions” with Matthew (Said Bey) and Peter (Darwin Shaw) are shown. One can tell which is John (Sebastian Knapp) because he is also part-narrator, and it’s obvious which one is Mary (Amber Rose Revah). Doubting Thomas (Matthew Gravelle) has his name spoken not until the end of the film, so for those of you who forget his name will be wondering the whole time. When Judas (Joe Wredden) speaks, and since Jesus’ disciples blend into the background, people might think, “Has he been here the whole time?” His body double was probably in his place until he had lines.

My favourite performance is Sebastian Knapp’s, the man who portrays John, because he captures the delicate emotions of the character – even though only some disciples have development but the people who are seeing this are probably those who have read the Bible. One believable performance is from Greg Hicks, who captures the cruelty of Pontius Pilate. Diogo Morgado isn’t a great Jesus. To play Jesus, the actor must have a magnetic presence that most of the characters would simply stop what they’re doing and listen to what he has to say. Morgado simply doesn’t portray that power, and when the main actor doesn’t give a believable performance, it’s all downhill from there. The only good aspects from his performance is the fear, pain and acceptance he portrays during the crucifixion portion of the film. Otherwise, he’s part of the reason I couldn’t believe the film.

The miracles Jesus conjures up are also a lot more believable on paper, especially with these awful visuals. The most only half-decent visuals are at the beginning showing the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses and Abraham. There’s miracle where Jesus simply holds up a basket of fish and bread and then he believes it would be filled with fish for the hungry, and – ta da – it is. This is a miracle I have trouble believing, because it would be better if fish just rained from the sky. I’d ask, “Does it taste more like fish… or air?” I have an easier time believing the food fight with imaginary food in 1991’s “Hook.” During another miracle, he says that if you believe in God, you’ll never die. I assume he’s talking about the spirit, but if he isn’t, how silly; this teaching seems wedged in. I love the teachings of God, but other films – perhaps “The Passion of the Christ,” which I still have to see – must depict his teachings better. Better yet, just stick to the Bible. In this film, the image of Jesus sitting on a side of a mountain with his disciples teaching them how to pray strikes me as more silly than inspiring.

Throughout, some might think that this all has a TV quality about it. Bad news. This film is literally a TV movie plastered on the big screen. It’s condensed and edited from the History channel’s “The Bible,” a 10-hour mini-series that is condensed into a 138-minute film. No wonder the editing has breaks in it where it goes to black, which must be an ending of an episode. The cinematography is also ugly in parts, where Jesus is out of focus for a good thirty seconds. There’s one ugly, ugly grainy shot that is of the Temple, and there’s always a bird flying in the same place… I think I’ve seen better visuals in films by Asylum Entertainment (“Sharknado,” “40 Days and Nights”).

The sets also have an unbelievable TV quality about them, too, and it just doesn’t work. When Jesus is walking on water, he literally does look like a ghost and it’s not a great scene because of the bad visuals. Looking at this at a technical perspective, it’s an ugly film. The film still portrays a message, but the randomized plotting is strange. There’s cuts in the plot where you can just tell there might have been important development cut out, the sort-of way films aired on TV are shortened so there can be time for commercials. It skips from him meeting Peter, to having all of his disciples rounded up, to the High Priests accusing him for blasphemy; and it really just goes from miracle, to miracle, to miracle. This plotting is boring, and since Morgado isn’t a good Jesus, and since the teachings are made so simplistic, some of the film’s emotional power (save the crucifixion) is squandered. By the way, some of the costume design seems so limited, it looks like a few of the Priests are just wearing bath towels.

This big screen experience masquerading as a film is completely deceiving. As an aspiring movie critic, I’m going to the theatre to review a film. Not a TV mini-series edited lazily into a film. This is just lazy filmmaking, if you can call it that. Making films and a TV series are two completely different processes, and have to be reviewed differently, so this is what is so strange about this flick – people expect to see a real film, first made for the theatres, not TV. This film is simply the Reader’s Digest version of TV’s “The Bible,” and I’m one of the types who want to watch the full story. Since you now know that this is just a TV show edited into a film, just stay home and watch the TV series. And if you don’t have ten hours on your hands, just skip this altogether, unless you’re a faithful person wanting your spirits raised. Otherwise, this just sucks.

Score: 38/100

4 thoughts on “Son of God (2014)

  1. Nice review. The poster does nothing but look like one of the many other live-action Jesus films you could find at a religious bookstore. Maybe a review of “The Passion of the Christ” would work around Good Friday?

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