Here’s a little tidbit about my upbringing: I grew up a very conservative Christian. Being born and raised in the Bible Belt has a way of shaping one’s identity from the start through weekly Sunday school and morning services, Wednesday night Bible meetings, and youth trips. I was taught to adamantly love and fear God, which I did wholeheartedly for the better part of my formative years. My fearful love spawned into obsession as I attempted to do everything in my power to constantly acknowledge my savior for fear of punishment in eternal fire and pain. I prayed multiple times every day and created rituals for myself to ensure the salvation of a damned soul. I even read the Bible at leisure, attempting but never achieving to read it from first page to the last.
However, with my growing age came doubt and rationality, and while members of my church shouted hallelujahs and amen when we read of how Moses led his people to freedom, I was shocked that no one else was questioning why Pharaoh and his men were unimpressed by Moses’ miracles. You mean to tell me there was a group of people in ancient Egypt who could transform their walking staffs into snakes at will? Considering these moments of sleight of hand featured in the Bible, Jesus’ deeds centuries later seems like child’s play. Yet, regardless of my background I was beyond apprehensive when going into Son of God as I feared having to watch a film of Kirk Cameron television quality. Thankfully, Son of God possesses more tact than that, instead feeling more on par with the quality of the History Channel; simple straightforward narrative with some impressive aspects albeit some cheesy CGI moments as well. Son of God is exactly what you’d expect from a film about Jesus’ life as it follows the early teachings of his ministry to his death. As a whole, Son of God is surprisingly entertaining, for the first hour, that is.
Son of God must have had the almighty Yahweh on its production team to receive the budget that it did. Aesthetically, the film looks great. The location in which it is filmed is heavily featured by long shots and swooping aerial shots to examine the barren, dusty look one would expect for the time period visited. Plus, cinematographer Rob Goldie adds a deserty, dingy coat that further brings out the era’s expected imagery. Even the costume designs are impressive, appearing as though made with authentic materials and colors.
I also thoroughly respected the writing team’s use of showcasing both sides of Jesus’s Crucifixion. As a child I never understood why the Jews were considered the bad guys for crucifying Jesus. They were the chosen people and if they believed this person to be a false prophet who are we to judge them and say they were wrong? While I’m not condoning the actions taking against Jesus in this tale, especially since he was merely teaching ideas of love, unity, and togetherness— the fact remains that according to tradition Jesus’s teachings were blasphemous and director Christopher Spencer uses Son of God to show that the Jews and Pharisees were only attempting to preserve their faith and traditions.
Jesus and his ride or die crew.
I appreciate and respect Spencer’s inclusion of a multitude of colorful people featured throughout Son of God; however, the fact that Jesus is still being portrayed as a white man with light features is mind-boggling. Does the skin color of historical Jesus matter? Yes and no. While his color makes no difference to his message, it still says a lot about the status quo of making him look the part of a very Westernized ideal.
Not much, just sittin’ here thinking ’bout life, eternity, and stuff.
Son of God is about an hour too long to have kept my attention. While Jesus’s story is a fascinating one, it doesn’t merit a near two and half hour long film. Some aspects of Jesus’s deeds should have been left on the cutting room floor to shave off unnecessary time. Plus, by the end it’s obvious Spencer and his editors were stretching scenes through slow motion to fill in time.
I found it a bit odd that Sebastian Knapp’s Jesus only spoke in parables and teachings. While I understand Son of God attempt to relay Jesus’s stories from the Bible itself, the lack of giving Jesus any moments of normal conversation portrays him as less of a human and more of an idol—a big no-no in the Judeo-Christian laws.
Little did we know, Jesus was baptized by that dude from the Counting Crows. Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la
Son of God is what it is. As a film it does exactly what it needs to successfully tell a coherent story with a beginning, middle, and end. It also knows how to emote feelings from viewers through strategically placed music swells and tight close-ups on Jesus’s pained, saddened face. By the end of the film, I was the only person dozing off while tightly holding my purse ready to leave the theater to get some sinning done. Everyone else had smiles of contentment on their faces and some had tears in their eyes over what they had just seen.
Son of God is far from perfect and really only a film meant for curious patrons looking to learn the basics of Jesus’ life or churchgoers ready to reaffirm their faith in Christ. Judging by the shouts of “amen” in the theater, I assume it did its job. My dream is to see or make a film that challenges conventional beliefs of Jesus and his teachings. I want a film that will explore Jesus and John the Baptist’s obsession with shaking up the infrastructure of conservative Jewish beliefs at the time. Of course to achieve such a feat they ultimately decide that in order to gain momentum and followers, they must deceive the people with miracles in order to change the world. But alas, I know society is not ready for that type of film, so those of us interested in religious history will just have to settle for a History Channel mini-series and films like Son of God.
Take a Drink: every time a slow-motion sequence happens.
Take a Drink: every time Jesus performs a miracle.
Take a Drink: every time someones questions if Jesus is the messiah.
Take a Drink: for every time you’re reminded Joseph was an absent father in Jesus’ life.
Do a Shot: if you doze off.