If you are a Christian then I am sure you have seen the new Son of God movie by now. If you haven’t your salvation may be hanging by a thread! What are you waiting for? I went and saw the film Son of God a couple of weeks ago with a group from our church. Having had a couple of weeks now to reflect on the film and my mixed feelings I thought I would try and share them today.
My first act, however, is to confess. It is Lent after all, so I proceed with a penitent heart throughout this post. Here is my confession: I generally hate Christian films. Ok, hate is a strong word, but hey I am confessing so I might as well be honest. Christians films generally make me cringe. The medium of film just seems to be difficult for Christians. Rather, the film industry seems very difficult for Christians. In order to make a film of real quality it takes serious backing by a major studio. Alternatively, if you don’t have money it takes a very skilled and creative director to make an independent film that is a cinematic achievement. There are so few films created with Christian intent that navigate these difficult challenges enough to create a cinematic masterpiece. I am still waiting for a Christian film, that is a film that is made with kingdom purpose, to blow me away.
Now that my confession is over let me dive deeper into the Son of God. The best thing I can see about this film is that it was not an embarrassment. That is a huge compliment from me! (Didn’t you just read my confession) The quality of the film, the artistic choices made, the acting, the casting, and the story telling were all at least average and sometimes above average. That is an achievement in my jaded mind. Some parts of the film were actually good to very good. Here are my favorite parts.
- The cast pretty much all looked like they came from the Middle East. I loved seeing people with bad teeth and missing teeth. They looked like a fairly good historical representation of first century peasants.
- I enjoyed the story telling from John’s writings. Using John as the primary text and even incorporating John’s later writings (including Revelation) was carried out well. They could have taken this a bit further perhaps, as they made numerous choices to include material from outside of John, but that was probably done to fill out certain parts of the story.
- They made Jesus’ humanity come out. The hardest part of the incarnation for most people is understanding the humanity of Jesus, the film did a pretty good job of making him human.
- The Pharisees made sense. For many people the interactions between Jesus and the Pharisees don’t make very much sense. Since these interactions are vital to understanding the nature of the Kingdom of God I really appreciated the effort put into this tension. I especially love how they handled Nicodemus. Well done.
- The calling of Matthew was a great scene, that passage just came alive.
- My favorite moment in the movie is when Jesus kisses the cross as he is about to pick it up. Excellent.
- I liked just about every aspect of the film from Jesus’ arrest to the resurrection.
Here are some things that I didn’t like or was disappointed in.
- The movie looked and felt like a really good TV movie. I don’t know the history behind it, but with the creators having made The Bible miniseries on History Channel, it might have very well started out that way. Every time they showed the city of Jerusalem the budgetary restraints of the film were abundantly apparent.
- The guy playing Jesus was trying too hard to be Jesus. There are few roles that can be as difficult to play as Jesus, and the actor was fine. The way he talked, however, was distracting, He talked like someone who is always trying to say something profound. It was the one part that didn’t seem very human. It made Jesus sound weird.
- There have been numerous jokes made about this, but Jesus was almost too good looking. I think his humanity would be even better shown with an actor who is very average or even forgettable looking. No one ever recored what Jesus looked like. It clearly didn’t make him stand out.
- The time constraints of the film really downplayed the teaching aspect of Jesus’ ministry. That was too bad.
- Easter was underwhelming, that seems problematic.
- The ending after the Ascension was lame. It was totally lame.
So overall I was pretty pleased with the film. There were some powerful moments and some disappointing moments. But it was a good telling of Jesus’ story, a good proclamation of his purpose and of his love. For that I am thankful. I am sure God will use it to impact many lives in a powerful way. ( I mean look at what God did with the Jesus film and that was terrible.) I am still waiting, though, to be blown away by a Christian film.