12.17.2016

Movie Review: Son of God **

This is part five of my "Films about Jesus" Christmas Review.  Where I try to watch as many movies (theatrical releases only) about Jesus as possible, plus review them, before Christmas hits.

My introduction (along with the list I'm trying to get through) is here.
Part one was Last Days in the Desert
Part two was The Nativity Story
Part three was Jesus Christ Superstar
Part four was The Gospel According to St Matthew

There is nothing worse than going to see a movie which was a theatrical release and realising, very quickly, that the movie falls squarely into the realm of TV movie.  This is the case with Son of God, a revelation which shouldn't be surprising since the original material was in fact first released on television as part of the History Channel's The Bible series.

I only watched one episode of that series coming away with the feeling that they didn't respect the source material.  I would make that accusation about all the movies I've seen about Jesus so far - including this one - except The Gospel According to St. Matthew.  But we'll get back to that presently, first this movie is bad in other ways too.

First - small beans - the editors of Son of God were lazy.  Typically, most movies don't do fade-outs unless it's for thematic reasons, and now I know why, because they look like an ad break is about to come!  And Son of God is FULL of fade outs!  It would have been an easy fix in the editing room, but they were left in and it adds to the made for tv movie feel.

On to larger problems: 

Violence: My biggest problem with the first episode of the tv show was the needless violence. The same appears in this movie.

Continuity.  For example, the movie can easily be divided in two piece: the first 1/3 and the last 2/3. There are a couple characters that disappear and appear and it make no sense as to why (unless they were individual tv episodes before).  So a particularly annoying pharisee seems to be more committed to following Jesus around than the disciples.  Every time Jesus says something controversial he's there to question Jesus or the disciples.  Then *poof* he's gone - never to be seen again.  Then there is John's narration, there for 1/3 of the movie then *poof* gone until the very last scene in the movie.

Just WHY?  Some of the decisions are confounding like - why have flashbacks in a movie to earlier scenes?  And why is there a voiceover of Jesus saying "one of you will betray me" while Judas prepares to hang himself when Jesus said it to him just 15 minutes ago!!  A lot of this might make sense as a multi-episode tv show, but it makes for terrible choices in a movie - (or the editors were too lazy to fix it)

CG of the cities, temple etc.: TV movie CG.  I play video games with in game graphics better than this movie offers.  If the rest of the movie was up to par I wouldn't mind as much.

Disproportionate:  The movie is 2h 18min long.  1/2 of that time is devoted to the last week.  And yet they add numerous needless scenes involving the disciples and completely skip the priests bringing Jesus to Herod.  While in Jesus ministry only one parable is told and a couple mighty deeds done.

Confusing:  Characters are introduced quickly and then dropped for instance, it is mentioned that John the Baptist is dead with a very quick flashback to Jesus being baptised and Jesus saying that John was amazing.  That's it.  It makes no sense in the over all story, it's just there because that's a story in the Bible.

And THAT is the biggest problem, a lot of these stories and sayings are there because they are in the Bible - and that's really the only reason.  For example a number of sayings of Jesus are ripped from their context and randomly inserted while Jesus is walking along.  The weirdest being Jesus crouching down and smiling to a little girl while talking about the temple's complete and utter destruction.  It leaves the viewer in complete disbelief about what's being seen:  First that Jesus would be smiling and talking to a little girl about that. Second, that a little jewish girl would smile back as if Jesus had just told a mildly funny joke.  

This is a constant problem throughout, so much so that it doesn't feel like any gospel, it's a mash up.  We start with John's gospel (because John's narrating) but it quickly skips ahead to no gospel at all, so instead of the themes from just one gospel what is presented in NONE of the themes from ANY of the gospels.  It just doesn't resonate. It's a bastardised gospel.

And some of it doesn't ring true of any of the gospels: for example, the disciples are way too knowledgeable.  In the gospels they're always asking embarrassing questions and saying things that are a bit off.  Jesus rebukes them constantly for this.  But here, they only get the big stuff wrong and they seem more than capable of answering the pharisees - something they run to Jesus about in the Gospels.

Movies like this one are good reminders of why The Diatessaron (an early harmonising of the gospels) was rejected by the early church.  In trying to harmonise the gospels the makers have only corrupted them.  Sure there's no blatant heresy here but the power of the gospels has been stripped because the writers fail to appreciate why we have four gospels instead of one.

Here then, is a tv show made into a theatrically released movie - and it shows - all to a gullible crowd who keep throwing their money at the alter of Hollywood hoping they'll continue making flattened, boring, needless and altogether uninspired versions of Bible(-inspired) stories that we don't really need.

**