BY SCOTT DIETRICH
It’s hard to believe that a story about Jesus of Nazareth could ever be boring or dull. But the movie Son of God manages exactly that, making it without a doubt the worst movie about the New Testament ever made. Even with a large tapestry of subject matter to explore and work with, the film is unoriginal and about as exciting as washing all the windows in your house.
Son of God manages to fail in all categories of what makes a film watchable. Visual effects, script, acting and directing are all to blame for making the movie the pile of garbage that it is.
When they began production, the casting director must have said to himself, “Let’s not try to get anybody who has ever had a recognizable role in a movie before,” because that is exactly who stars in this film. Nobody you have ever seen or heard of before.
Jesus of Nazareth, the main character and man with a plan, is played by an Ashton Kutcher look-a-like, Diogo Morgado of Portugal. His British accent and simplified approach to the character makes you feel like you are watching Legolas from The Lord of the Rings rather than the messiah of the Christian faith.
Other mediocre performances include a confusing and violent portrayal of Peter by Darwin Shaw. Peter apparently acted as Jesus’s bodyguard, as he pummels Romans and bears his fists throughout the movie. Apparently the writers of the script found some information that was not mentioned in the Gospels, that Peter was one ass-kicking apostle. Greg Hicks, as Pontius Pilate, gives a performance where you never for a second believe that he is Pilate, or that he thinks that he is Pilate. Rarely is there a scene with him where you cannot help but laugh at his tired scowling expression as he struggles to get his lines out.
The production values are terrible, and the visual effects are no more stunning than the visual effects of Ben Hur by modern standards. There may have been a time when an out of focus shot of Jerusalem that looks like it was built out of Lego may have been stunning, but in the 21st century, it just looks bad. The costumes are possibly the film’s only redeeming trait and are the only visual element worth mentioning.
The film’s claim to failure though is the script. It is so dumbed down and obvious that you can predict when certain lines will be said, especially those taken out of the good book. Like when Jesus and his merry band are sitting near the sea of Galilee and someone asks Jesus about money, and on cue he gives his camel passing through the eye of a needle shtick.
At another point when Jesus and his apostles visit the temple in Jerusalem and confront the money changers, Jesus is scowling over a table of them. The script calls for Judas to say, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
Really?! That’s terrible. This may seem like harsh evaluation but I dare you to not laugh out loud when the Romans come to arrest Jesus, and Peter, in a tribute to Forrest Gump, screams “Run Jesus! Run!” The movie is riddled with lines like this, attempting to be profound when in fact they are about as profound as bacon and eggs.
Unlike The Last Temptation of Christ, The Greatest Story Ever Told or The Passion of the Christ, Son of God offers no new perspective on the story of the New Testament, no interesting performances, and is entirely unenjoyable. Studios that dabble in the genre of religion should learn an important lesson from Son of God. Just because the story is taken from the Bible does not mean a half-ass effort will make the film a success.
A religious film is like any other film, poor acting, poor directing and a poor script will always cause a walk-out-of-the-theatre situation. Just because the subject matter is from the Bible does not make the movie any more holy.