A Gospel Geek Review of the ‘Son of God’ Film

The Son of God movie premiers February 28th.  I got to see an advanced screening last night.


It’s an expansion of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s 10-hour miniseries, The Bible. The film explores Jesus’ life from birth to resurrection, but also features some scenes (and deleted scenes) from The Bible.

Watch the trailer here:

Here is my review:

I find myself at a loss for words in how to approach this. I will start with the negative and move from there.

Mostly, I was disappointed.

Even though the film only waded in the waters of cheesiness, it never really cast off the feeling of its counterpart, The Bible mini-series. It came nowhere near the epic grandeur of Gibson’s The Passion; but that was probably on purpose. The tone was flat—it neither attempted to be too serious nor too light. It was like a patchwork of Biblical scenes forced into a 2 hour film.

That’s not the worst part, however.

I was warned that Biblical purists would not like it, and that warning was correct. I’ve never understood why screenwriters feel the need to take a timeless line or a classic phrase and change it. It never works.

Christians are people of words. Our faith teaches us that every jot and every tittle is important—that we should neither add nor subtract to the written testimony.

From a purely marketing standpoint, it makes no sense to rearrange and alter the details of such a timeless story. A report from variety.com came out claiming that 98% of faith-driven consumers were unhappy with Aronofsky’s upcoming Noah film. Once again, why make a film about a religion, but change it in a way that alienates the followers of that religion?

Here is perhaps my biggest qualm: both the Son of God film and The Bible mini-series cave to our culture’s frantic fear of political incorrectness.

So far as my DNA is concerned, I am Hispanic. I don’t feel slighted in any way when a film depicts historical events from another culture and doesn’t include people of my race. Why should it?

In The Bible mini-series, the producers chose an African-American man to play Samson. It was actually quite funny to watch this rather beefy fellow beat the Philistines to a pulp. But why make him African? Samson was an Israelite and would not have had dark skin. Do I really care? Not really—except that I think they did it to satisfy the belief that we MUST make it multicultural.

In the same way, in the Son of God film they included Mary as part of the 12 disciples. They didn’t actually say she was one of the 12; but she was with them the whole time. Once again, does it matter? Not really—unless of course it’s another spineless attempt to appease the politically correct crowd, whose belief is that it’s wrong to have a story that is exclusive of other races or genders. Sensitivity apparently trumps history.

Should I be offended if someone makes a film of Arabian Nights, but it contains no Mexicans?
Should I be offended if someone makes a film about the life and times of Mnguni, but the film contains no white actors?

Of course not! Why should I?

Why not make one of the twelve disciples an Asian?
Why not make one of the disciples deaf or androgynous?
Why not delete Jesus’ words about being the only way? (ne’er mind, they did that)
Why not delete any reference to hell or judgment? (Oops! They did that too)

All in all, it felt like a spineless attempt to fabricate a Jesus that wouldn’t offend anyone.

Aside from my anti-pc rant, there were some good things about the film.

First, The actor who portrayed Jesus (Diogo Morgado) did a great job balancing the seriousness of the role and Jesus’ kind demeanor. This is in stark contrast to Robert Powell (1977’s Jesus of Nazareth) whose Jesus was certainly pious, but also cold and distant. Morgado’s Jesus had the warmth and approachability we would expect from our beloved carpenter.

Second, Jesus has not been on the big screen on over 10 years. Any chance to get the Gospel on the big screen is a good thing.

Before the printing press, the teacher was the authority.
After Gutenberg, the book was the authority.
In our postmodern era, the screen is the authority.

Finally, many churches are using the release of this film as a way to begin dialogue with people who are outside the faith. Both the mini-series and the film are a great way to get people talking.

What say you?


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