Judge David Johnson wept.
Their empire. His kingdom.
Birthed from The Bible, History Channel's enormously successful mini-series, Son of God shifts the focus to The Man and his adventures in redemptive salvation.
Facts of the Case
Diogo Morgado plays Jesus of Nazareth, a mild-mannered carpenter who did some stuff.
You know the story by now, right? And by story, I mean "The Story." Jesus, causing a bit of a stir in Judea, healing lepers, casting out demons, and referring to himself as the forgiver of sins, ultimately gets him into big-time trouble which led his idiot friends to bolt, leaving him to a painful and cosmically humiliating death, before coming back to life three days later to save humanity from its sins and possibly appear in water stains and toast.
It's all present and accounted for in producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's detailed re-telling of Christianity's most important narrative. And that's ultimately why I left my time with the Son of God fairly nonplussed. The whole thing just felt so…milquetoast. And when you're dealing with the greatest story ever told, the last thing you want to be is boring.
Not that I have the remedy. All the big Jesus movies have had their share of weaknesses. The Last Temptation of Christ explored some genuinely compelling themes of the duality of Christ, but goofy casting choices, too many "off-book" storylines, and Harvey Keitel's ridiculous accent held it back. The Passion of the Christ was overshadowed by director Mel Gibson's relentless gore. Come on, Mel…the physical pain of the Crucifixion wasn't what made the ordeal so terrible, it was the galactic spurning of the Father and the diabolical weight of mankind's cumulative sin. But, to be honest, both films ended up being more interesting and delivering more satisfying insight into the persona of Christ than this one.
Son of God is the byproduct of selected sequences from the mini-series plus some unaired footage, which certainly contributes to the episodic feel of the picture. Here, Jesus hits all the highlights and checks all the boxes on His way to Calvary, but it never feels like anything more than a highlight reel.
Rest assured, there's nothing offensive or out-of-whack with the telling, as Burnett and Downey are obviously all in with their faith (there's even a bonus feature where they essentially evangelize to the audience). But two hours later, it just seemed like Son of God was preaching to the choir. And as someone who's a member of that choir, I was still sleepy.
Fox's Son of God (Blu-ray) is okay. The 2.35:1/1080p HD transfer is uneven, with video fidelity shifting from soft to sharp and grainy to clean scene by scene. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track has little to do, save for the sporadically swelling music and Crucifixion thunderclaps. As for extras, we get "Son of God Reborn," a making-of featurette detailing the genesis of the film; "From the Set: The Passion," a look at the Crucifixion sequence; a Spanish-language making-of featurette; "Faith into Practice," the aforementioned producers' Christian message; as well as DVD and digital copies of the film.
Son of God covers the Messiah's greatest hits, but there's nothing memorable enough about it to earn airplay in venues outside of your local Methodist fellowship hall.
I wash my hands of this film.
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