By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
For many years, the story of Jesus has been portrayed in various films of the theatrical and television varieties. Some of these have made waves because of graphic or controversial content (The Passion of the Christ, The Last Temptation of Christ). Others have kept the story content simple and faithful to the Bible stories and have focused only on the presentation (The Greatest Story Ever Told, Jesus Christ Superstar). The latest adaptation comes from the producers of the History Channel’s mini-series, The Bible. The makers of the mini-series have taken selections from the episodes about Jesus and have added additional content to make a feature length film. The result is a well produced television film that managed to get theatrical distribution.
The movie obviously tells an abridged version of the life of Jesus, from birth to crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus (Diogo Morgado) travels with his apostles, headed by Simon Peter (Darwin Shaw), to spread a message of love and peace. His claims to being the prophesied Messiah and son of God trouble and anger the religious elders. Feeling threatened by Jesus’ influence on their congregation, the elders seek assistance from their Roman military oppressors.
From producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnet and director Christopher Spencer, Son of God doesn’t really bring anything dynamically new to the presentation of Jesus’ story. The screenplay by Richard Bedser, Christopher Spencer, Colin Swash and Nic Young treads the usual and familiar territory. The whole viewing experience is not bad, really. It’s just not particularly exciting or thrilling. Some of the scenes do have some emotional punch, and may have an impact on someone not at all familiar with the story. For those well versed in Biblical material, this version has little new to offer.
The acting in the film ranges from brilliant to slightly corny. Diogo Morgado effectively portrays Jesus with much love and charisma. Strong performances are delivered by Darwin Shaw (Simon Peter), Amber Rose Revah (Mary Magdalene) and Adrian Shiller (Caiaphas). Producer Roma Downey stars as Mary, the mother of Jesus, but her presence is somewhat limited in the film.
Perhaps this movie has its limitations because it is based on a television production. Because the filmmakers keep the violence and gore of the crucifixion scenes conservative, the movie would make a much more family friendly adaptation than The Passion of the Christ. That said; Christian audiences, may enjoy the film, but have probably already experienced the story of Jesus in bolder and better versions.