Son of God {a review}

Last March, "The Bible" miniseries took The History Channel, and the world, by storm bringing in 14.1 million viewers and breaking all kinds of ratings records. From that phenomenal event was born the Son of God movie which opened in theaters last weekend. (Read the fascinating story of how the movie was born here.)

Of course Son of God has received a myriad of reviews, many of them less than flattering as is often the case with films related to Christianity and the Bible. I tend to wobble on the fence with such movies, torn between dramatic interpretations that are often heavy on "the cheese factor" and the sincere desire to share the most significant story in history.

While Son of God is not entirely without "cheese," those moments are few and far between. And I believe the potential influence of the movie far outweighs its few awkward moments.

son-of-god
Photo courtesy of Fox Studios

First, a word of caution to parents: While I think it is important that our children understand the sacrifice of Christ and all that it involved, and while I believe media can be a valuable tool in doing this, the PG-13 rating on Son of God should be taken seriously. The crucifixion scene is graphic, as it should be. I recommend seeing Son of God without your children first, then determine at what age it is appropriate for your children to see the film.

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Photo Courtesy of Fox Studios

WHAT I LIKED...

This is a quality film. Hollywood producers who have already proven their worth in the industry, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey used their skill sets and influence to create a quality production from start to finish. The writing and direction is great. The cinematography and orchestration is superb. And the acting is somewhat impressive (once you get past the fact that they all speak with a British accent.) While some will question their casting choices, costume design, and even the use of hair product, no one can argue with their commitment to quality.

It's a great overview. I imagine it's difficult to tell the story of the Bible in a 10-week miniseries. I imagine it's almost impossible to portray the crux of the story--the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus--in a mere 2.5 hours! But Burnett and Downey did so masterfully. While the video montage of the Old Testament felt slightly like a highlight video of the mini-series, the overall story was beautifully told by the disciple closest to Jesus and the writer of one of the Gospels, John. A perfect choice for a first-hand account of the life and ministry of the Christ.

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Photo courtesy of Fox Studios

WHAT I LOVED...

It's purpose. The version I saw had a message from Mark Burnett and Roma Downey at the beginning of the film. In that message, as well as all of the interviews I've seen and read with them, their purpose seems to be genuine: to acquaint the general public with the Bible (through the mini-series) and with the Son of God (through the movie) in order to spread the Gospel. No matter what the critics say, Burnett and Downey can rest knowing they found a way  put their great success to work for a greater purpose. And, let's be honest, this movie would probably not have the publicity that it does if it had lesser-known names behind it.

It shows the loving heart of Christ. This film, more than any I recall, seems to focus on the relationships of Jesus...with his disciples, with the crowds, and with His mother. We get to know the disciples, how they respond to Christ and how He interacts with them. Since Jesus is the reflection of God the Father to us (God with us), I like that the general public will see Him as loving and kind. Sadly, I think too often we Christians do a rather poor job of demonstrating that attribute of God.

son-of-god-2
Photo courtesy of Fox Studios

WHAT I WISH HAD BEEN BETTER...

The character of Jesus. It's hard to create the character of Jesus for stage or screen. It's a difficult task to write what He would do (outside of Scripture), it's hard to cast the person who has to play Him, and it's got to be difficult to be the one to bring Christ to life on the big screen. While I think Son of God does a fair job of this, I wish their version of Jesus had been a little more commanding at times. Yes, He was 100% man, but He was also 100% God. Like I said...it's a hard balance to attain. Someone in our group liked how "relatable" Jesus seemed, so maybe it's more of a personal preference than a flaw in the movie.

Message of Grace. While Son of God is a fantastic, historical narrative that remains true to Scripture, I came away feeling that a major theme had been lost somewhere in the editing process. As a believer, I connected with the stories and the characters. I felt the shame and heartache of one who's received grace as I watched the bloody crucifixion scene. I rejoiced in the Resurrection and triumph over sin and the grave. But I'm not sure someone unfamiliar with Scripture, and with God's story of love and redemption, would have found those deeper themes woven into the narrative.

son-of-god-5
Photo courtesy of Fox Studios

THE TAKEAWAY

If you are looking for a bigger and better version of Passion of the Christ, this is not it. (Despite Mel Gibson's personal demons, he makes a great movie!) But for a quality, overview of the life and ministry of Christ, Son of God is spot on.

The greatest thing to come from the movie Son of God is, in my opinion, one thing: opportunity. Not since 2004 when Mel Gibson released Passion of the Christ, has the message of the Gospel been more forefront in popular culture. As Christians, this provides us a prime opportunity to discuss our faith with others. We should not sit back and let the movie speak for us, hoping our loved ones will see it and fall with conviction to their knees in their local theater. Call me crazy, I just don't see that happening.

But neither should we, as Christians, needlessly criticize a well-made portrayal of the Gospel for popular culture or "skip it" because we've heard the story before. So, then, what should we do?

We should go see the movie. We should take our friends and family members. We should take anyone who will go. Then we should take them out for coffee and talk about it. Discuss the "cheese" factor. Talk about whether Thomas should have had darker features as a Middle Eastern man. Discuss the merits of the movie and ways it might have fallen short.

Then tell them what Jesus has done for you. Because Son of God is more than just a story. It is THE story. It is HIS story. And you have something no actor, camera crew, or make up artist can replicate...you have a first-hand account...personal experience with the star of the movie. No critic can can argue with that.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15).

Want to read more family-friendly movie reviews?
Epic
The Lost Medallion
Les Miserables

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14 thoughts on “Son of God {a review}

  1. Excellent critique. I haven't seen the movie, but I like how you approached it from several angles with cautions but also a positive outlook on the film itself and the opportunities it affords. Thanks. I was glad to read this personally and glad you pinned it on Faith and Hope in Jesus.
    Blessings,
    Gail
    Gail @ BibleLoveNotes.com recently posted...Rahab & CoffeeMy Profile

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  3. I agree with most of your points about the movie. The actor who portrayed Jesus seems a little too laid back compared to how I envision Him in the Bible. He got frustrated at times with those around him. And we didn't see that. The crucifixion makes me cry every time! Because it was so brutal, and more brutal than they show, and because He die for me. Me! That is amazing. I liked the historical facts presented in the movie too. I am excited to see Noah this month but I am afraid it be more Hollywood than Bible. I love there are big screen movies based on the Bible. Spreading the Word in another way.

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    1. Post author

      Jeri, I agree it's so exciting to see an interest in the Bible among the public and in Hollywood. Great opportunities for discussion on the Bible and faith! Thanks so much for stopping by. ~Nancy

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  4. The crucifixion scene is graphic, as it should be.

    My 9-year-old son saw a TV ad for the movie and said, "Well, for once there's a movie that has a good REASON for being violent!" We have tried to shield him from gratuitous violence while being honest about real stories that matter, like Jesus.

    Thanks for this balanced review. I especially like your last paragraph.
    Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook recently posted...Four Weeks of Mostly Meatless Dinners (February)My Profile

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  5. Debi

    Thank you Nancy for your review. I feel the same as you in that a lot of the Christian movies made can make me cring at the cheesiness and the acting. I am hopeful that that is changing with movies like this and the movie "Heaven is for Real" and the Noah's ark one coming out. I pray they are true to both books they are based on. Both have quality actors, directors and producers. So I'm praying and hopeful that more movies with a strong Christian message will be made. Love your idea on taking people to see Son of GOD, then going out after to discuss it.
    Blessings to you,
    Debi :)

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  6. Thank you for your review. I have heard so many mixed reviews of this movie as well as the tv series. I think a friend said it well, he will watch the movie after praying for the Holy Spirit to give him discernment.

    Thanks for linking up with Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday! God bless!

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