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Cleanliness is next to godliness

Plot Overview

Some mystical musings of an old man (“I am John”) precede his reminiscence about a long-haired hippie type who walked about Galilee—from which it was said, “Nothing important ever came”—calling fisher­men and a tax collector and a few others to follow him (John: “After I saw what I saw, how could I not be one of his followers?”) Owing to ongoing tensions between the occupying Romans and the resident Jews who awaited their Messiah, any cluster of people gathered around such a charismatic leader as Jesus (Diogo Morgado) was bound to make Rome nervous who didn't want a competing king (Rex), and the religious leaders too who didn't want any­one upsetting the apple­cart. The Roman prefect Pontius Pilate (Greg Hicks) was squeezed between the political expedient of eliminating the perceived danger and his wife's troubled dream that JC was a holy man who didn't deserve to die. Pilate was a man of action who earlier had his soldiers tip over a stalled cart that was blocking the road, killing a man's innocent son in the process. Of course, if you've read the book, you'll know how it all ends.


It is estimated that the Gospels portray in detail just 39 days from the life of Jesus. “Son of God” knocks it down further, but still hits the high points: His preexistence, His heralded birth to a virgin (Leila Mim­mack), miracle working, teaching (“Put God first and every­thing else will follow”), healing, passion, and empty tomb. Missing is the temp­tations by the Devil, which footage was cut on account of a resemblance between Satan and President Obama. Still, Jesus is recog­niz­able as the One you learn about in Sunday School, but you'll learn more about Him in church.

I don't claim to represent the Catholic Church, but it seems to me some effort was made to make “Son of God” Catholic friendly. His mother (Roma Downey) if not explicitly portrayed as a perpetual virgin, at least was perpetually young looking, although in a modern medical procedure kind of way. The only song with lyrics was, “Mary, Did You Know?” (written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene.) Jesus says to Peter (Darwin Shaw), “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” Aged John (Sebastian Knapp) in exile recalls their earlier days “with Peter as our leader.” If you believe in the papacy, why, here you can see the first pope.

Baptists will be happy to watch Jesus's baptism by full immersion, although it was on only a third of the screen, running with the end credits.

If you're Jewish, you need not feel ignored. Portrayed are Jewish customs, festivals, and garments. There are Pharisees present to correct Jesus when­ever he gets some­thing wrong by their lights.

Muslims need not feel left out, either. The movie opens with an over­view of Islam's recog­nized prophets and holy men: Adam (& Eve), Noah, Abraham, Moses, and baby Jesus—there's more written of the holy child in the Qur'an [Koran] than in the Gospels. Muslims recognize Jesus as a prophet in the line above. When­ever Jesus makes a claim of divinity, there's some­one there to declare it “Blasphemy!”—except when he's alone with his disciples, but then John's memories might have played tricks on him. There are portions of the crucifixion missing where a switch could have been made according to Muslim belief.

If all you can think of is Jesus as an historical figure, why, there's lots of history here for him to be a part of.

What was the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene? Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene lovers? Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene married? Mary (Amber Rose Revah) was strikingly good looking, and for that matter so was Jesus hand­some (being played by a male model) with his hair parted down the middle. Mary Magdalene went with the disciples wher­ever they went (EXCEPT for the last supper). If it's just a matter of nature taking it's course, there would have been plenty of opportunity. But they don't act like lovers as such, not even the expected touch at the tomb.

There's only one mystery about it. The disciples were grubby and disheveled, but Mary M. was always clean and well-groomed. All I can figure is that when the disciples in their frenetic ministry had opportunity to bathe, the woman got first dibs on the water hole, and they respected her privacy. But Jesus also was clean. Well, He was the Son of God, and cleanliness is next to godliness (cf Psalm 18:20.)

The actor who portrayed Jesus was Portuguese. Portugal is part of Hispania, on the Iberian peninsula. That makes Jesus (in this movie) Hispanic.

Jesus is unfailingly happy, showing mercy with cheerfulness, to the point of being gay, especially when play­fully addressing young children.

Now for the shocker. If you look above Jerusalem off the right, you can observe up in the sky (in a couple scenes) what looks like a balloon with a rope hanging down from it. I don't know what it is, just an unidentified flying object (UFO.) If you believe Jesus came from space aliens, this movie will back you up.

Does a movie that tries to please everyone take a stand on anything? Yes it does; it tackles that difficult question of what did Jesus write on the ground, when he was confronted with a woman taken in adultery? The movie does an interpretation in which Jesus doesn't write on the ground but He waves a stone in the air before saying, “I'll give my stone to the first man who tells me he has not sinned.” Both were done, it seems, to distract the crowd's attention away from the woman, and Jesus being aware of their sins, it is likely those are what he listed in the Gospel account.

Production Values

“Son of God” (2014) is a biblical drama based on the History Channel's miniseries, “The Bible.” It was directed by documentary film­maker Christopher Spencer. It was written by Richard Bedser, Christopher Spencer, Colin Swash, and Nic Young. It stars Diogo Morgado, Amber Rose Revah, and Sebastian Knapp.

The problem wasn't poor acting but poor casting. Early on we see fisher­man Peter handling hefty ropes with frail hands. If these guys fished, they would have been burly. It looks like casting consisted of appropriating tourists from off the consumer tour bus to do a reenactment. They were serious and performed as well as might be expected, but they weren't actors. If voting were by acting ability alone, I would have called for Barabbas to be released, too, who could act a little. The casting exceptions are Jesus and Mary Magdalene who looked the parts. How­ever, the woman who played Martha (a small part) and Greg Hicks who played Pontius Pilate both gave good performances.

“Son of God” was shot on location in Morocco that resembled the Holy Land. Han Zimmer provided a booming musical score employing horns. We were constantly treated to close-ups shot with shaky cameras. The sets, props, and costumes were great but not the special effects so much.

Review Conclusion w/ Consumer Recommendation

“Son of God” was a decent drama in a one-size-fits-all religious garb. If your expectations aren't too high, it can be a rewarding film-going experience. Just don't expect epic proportions. Better acting would have gotten it a higher rating from me.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick.

Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years.

Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings.

Video Occasion: Good for Groups.

Overall product rating: three stars out of five.

Suspense: A few suspenseful moments.