It was about 10 years ago when The Passion of the Christ became one of the world’s most popular and most controversial movies of all time. The people behind Son Of God would welcome that level of popularity, and they have taken steps to make sure they are not mired in the same controversy.
Some of you probably know the story, but, if you don’t, Diogo Morgado stars as Jesus – an evangelist of rising popularity as he goes around Jerusalem spreading the word of God and performing miracles that convince many he is indeed the Son of God.
As the crowd of people he attracts starts to grow and grow, and his reputation grows to monumental heights, those who control Jerusalem feel threatened by the man’s popularity with the lower classes. During the celebration of Passover, Jesus makes his way into the city and is hailed as The Savior, but that is when the powerful decide to take action. Jesus is arrested and sentenced to death. Of course, that was his plan all along.
Those who watched The Bible last year on The History Channel or on DVD will recognize many scenes taken from that work (along with the inclusion of stuff that didn’t make the cut), but it is something different and more entertaining seeing it on the big screen.
While most movies would rely on the director to make it better, Son Of God owes a great deal of its success to editor Robert Hall. He faces a unique challenge to condense a 10-hour miniseries into a 2-hour comprehensive, compelling movie, and mostly succeeds.
Much of the first hour of Son Of God does come off like a collection of Jesus Christ’s Greatest Hits. The audience goes from scene to scene as we watch moments from the life of Jesus come to life without much tying it all together. It’s klunky.
However, the rest of Son of God is a dramatic and compelling telling of The Passion Play, especially because of Morgado. He has that intangible solemnity about him that makes Jesus come to life before our eyes more so than just by looking like Christ. He conveys the spirit of Christ, and the pain of the final days as he is betrayed, arrested, sentenced to death and crucified (without as much focus on the violence of it all like Gibson brought to The Passion Of The Christ, but enough to portray the brutality of it).
Plus, the second half of Son Of God has the elements of a political thriller as well as we see the church elders and Pontius Pilate (Greg Hicks) trying to come up with a plan to stop the rising popularity and fame of Jesus. It becomes intriguing even if you are familiar with the tale.
Son of God is rated PG-13 for intense and bloody depiction of The Crucifixion, and for some sequences of violence.