Saturday, March 8, 2014

Son of God Review

This review might be a slightly different view than normal. First off, being that this is a movie about Christ and most people know his story, I will be talking freely about the end of this movie. If that bothers you, then I invite you to stop right here. Most importantly, though, this will review will be a bit different because I consider myself an active Christian and thus my expectations for spiritually-based movies are a bit different than normal worldly movies, especially when it comes to Christ's life. With Son of God  I was very pleased with how it turned out and I would give the strong recommendation that all Christians, regardless of denomination, go give this movie a shot.

If you didn't already know, last year the History Channel came out with a 10-hour mini-series called The Bible. And yes, you guessed it. It's on the Bible. The movie Son of God comes directly from that mini-series. At first I thought that the mini-series was so successful that they decided to quickly throw together a movie about Christ from that. And while it is true that Son of God comes from that footage, I actually learned recently that they had decided to go forward with the Son of God before the release of The Bible and that it took a year's worth of editing for them to get the movie that they were comfortable. So that actually makes this a little more meaningful in my opinion. This didn't cost a lot of money, but a lot of effort was put into it to get it right.

I'll admit that right off the bat I was a bit worried. While The Passion of the Christ is focused solely on the last week of Christ's life, Son of God is focused on his whole life. And it's a bit messy leading up to that last week. Granted, they didn't want to do what The Greatest Story Ever Told did back in the 60's and make a four-hour movie of the life of Christ, but the beginning seemed a bit clunky and unfocused. Sure, the scenes that they did decide to include were great, but then we just bounced around almost randomly from scene to scene without much flow. What made it worse is that there were parts of Christ's early years and ministry that they should've focused on, but didn't. They only last part of the Nativity, with Mary and Joseph in the stable. They completely skipped 12-year-old Jesus in the temple. And John the Baptist was an afterthought. They only showed him baptizing Jesus in a flashback when they got news that he had been killed. These aspects of Christ's life I think are staples that need more focus if you are planning on doing all of Christ's life in a movie.

I did like the very beginning, though. They started off at the end with the apostle John late in his life and used him as the narrator. The movie opened up quoting John 1:1, showed him introducing the savior, then did a quick montage of the Old Testament, which was cleverly taken from their Bible mini-series. That overview is something that not a lot of movies about Christ do because that takes a lot of extra shooting to do that. Son of God had the advantage of that whole mini-series that was done where they can throw together footage from to do that. Kudos.

After a slightly rocky beginning, the movie really picked up when it got to the last week of Christ's life. Whereas the first part was choppy and unfocused, from the moment he rode in on the donkey, the movie flowed well and was super powerful. Sure there were a few minor things that bothered me like Herod being taken out and ropes around his wrists instead of nails, but for the most part I was super impressed. Not only was it super accurate with the perfect tone, but there were a few things that they focused on that not many other interpretations of Christ's life do. First off, it focused a lot on the political aspect of the crucifixion, both on the Jewish side of things and the Roman side of things. In many interpretations, you just see Christ being crucified without really knowing why it happened on a political standpoint. You know he had to on a spiritual standpoint, but oftentimes we don't think about the political reasons behind it.

Second, it focused quite a bit on the viewpoint of the apostles, specifically Peter and Judas. Peter was one of the most faithful people in the New Testament, but he had his own struggles in the beginning. Judas is usually seen as the villain and is given a darker tone and personality. This shows him more as a conflicted, confused man who honestly regretted what he did, which is probably more accurate. Also in terms of characters that it dove into besides Christ, the movie dove into Pilot's struggles a lot, specifically the drama between him and his wife. If you read the New Testament, Pilot's wife was against Jesus being crucified. I don't think I've ever seen a movie about Christ that dove into that, but this one did quite a bit and I loved it.

Finally, the last thing I will mention on this subject is that it focused a lot on the resurrection. Most movies about Christ will end shortly after the crucifixion and only briefly touch on Christ rising. This movie went all the way to the end of the gospels, touching even on things like the apostolic charge to go minister the gospel to the world. I loved that because that's the most important part. Christ didn't just die for us. He rose for us and still lives. And because of that, we can also live again. The movie did a great job with ending at that positive, hopeful note instead of ending with the sadness of the actual crucifixion. This wasn't a story about a man who got killed. This was a story about someone who lived a perfect life and sacrificed himself so that we can all live again.

Overall, the most important part for me in watching a movie about the life of Christ isn't all the technical aspect of the movies such as acting and visuals, but is rather the spiritual aspect behind the movie. No, Son of God wasn't perfect, but overall the tone and spirit of the movie was excellent. It was a very spiritually powerful interpretation of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ that will make it so there is no dry eye in the theater. I highly recommend this for all Christians especially. If you believe in Christ, then this movie is an absolute must see. If you don't have the money or time to go to the theater and see it, at the very least I would recommend you find it on DVD and spend an evening with it. You won't regret it. Any flaws that the movie had I will overlook because of the strong spirit I felt and thus I give Son of God a 9/10.

P.S.- Many kudos to CeeLo Green for his rendition of "Mary Did You Know" at the end credits. Listen here:

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