Saturday, July 12, 2014

Review 280: "Son of God"

Their empire. His kingdom.
My naptime.


      Son of God is a shameless cash-grab. I'm sorry, a 2014 film edited entirely from the History Channel mini-series The Bible that people have been able to watch, usually for free, for the last year now. And yet, people still came out to pay money for it in theaters. Ugh. The film is directed by documentarian Christopher Spencer, and is written by him, alongside fellow documentarians Richard Bedser, Colin Swash and Nic Young. However, the film is more famously produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. The film follows the familiar story of Jesus (Diogo Morgado) and his followers, mainly Peter (Joe Coen), Mary Magdalene (Amber Rose Revah), John (Sebastian Knapp) and Mary (Roma Downey) as the travel to spread Jesus's message all the way up until Jesus is crucified and resurrected. Pretty much the exact story you're thinking of when you think Jesus.

A Disclaimer

      Look, I really wish I didn't have to do this, but I will for good measure. I never have talked about my religious beliefs here, mostly because they never came up. But perhaps, it's fair to point out my thoughts before I make anymore snarky jokes or really get into what I thought about the movie, which, if you haven't guess, isn't much positive. I am about as non-religious as you can get without calling myself an atheist. I never went to church, never read the Bible and can count the times I've actually been in a church on just my two hands. And yet, I am not an atheist, mainly because A. I have an open-mind and can theoretically believe in God or any other religion. And B. because the atheists that are amazing toolbags that use their atheism to brag about how "superior" they are to everyone who does believe are the most annoying people ever and the farther away from them I am the better. But, for now, I do not truly believe in God or Jesus. However, no matter how I or you personally feel about Christianity or any other religion, this is not a review of religion. It's a review of a movie. I believe anyone can believe in whatever they want hopefully free from persecution. That does not, however, mean I have to say nice things about a Christian movie in order to not offend the more... hardcore believers. So please understand that when I call Son of God a greedy and lazy film that is exceptionally poorly-made and at times excruciatingly boring, it's not an "attack" of Christianity. It's what I genuinely feel about Son of God, which is first and foremost, a movie. Good? Good.

Letter to the Editor

      Son of God's biggest problem is that's it's a lazy and greedy cash-in. And no, not just because it's one of the most blatant "give-us-more-money" moves since any 3D re-release of a movie ever. The film actually suffer from this, mostly through an, at times, laughably bad production value and through some truly terrible editing choices to get the film down to a still too long 2 hours and 15 minutes. The bad editing causes a majority of the film's problems. It's so by-the-numbers that even someone who doesn't know the story will be bored to tears with how generic and obvious it is. And yet the film's editing often cuts out the connective tissue of the story. As a result the film plays like a series of loosely connected episodic stories. Even those who know the story will like get lost as the film jumps from one adventure in Jesus's life to the next with little in the way of closure or explanation. In literally seconds Jesus goes from getting his first follower Peter to having a whole group of followers without any explanation as to how or who they are. Realistically, the audience the film is mainly targeting are the people who already heard this story in greater detail in The Bible mini-series. Or, you know, in the actual freaking Bible.

Jesus Christ Superstar

      And yet the film desperately tries to make the whole thing cool for a young audience. The film is presented most similarly to an Avengers film, with big sweeping camera angles and an "epic" music score that could only be more manipulative if it actually held a gun to your head and told you to cry or it'd make you. One particularly hilarious scene features Jesus walking into a town and a young kid screaming" IT's JESUS" at the top of his lungs like insert-rockstar-of-your-choosing. The whole film tries so hard to make Jesus "kewl" again that it's surprising they didn't cast Bradley Cooper as Jesus and give him have a best friend honey badger played by either Key or Peele. The film certainly tries hard with the hilariously excessive slow motion that comes out whenever the story is 300-y enough to warrant it.
      However, the film's not just content enough to desperately leech on to the youth audience, oh no. The film knows that the elderly are the ones who'd buy this movie and put it next to their Bible mini-series DVD and their actual Bible, so it's time to tug at the heartstrings like giving an iconic gritty superhero a son. And then having it be completely useless because who needs emotions! ...Oops, sorry got a little ahead of myself there. Son of God makes sure to milk out every emotional scene it has. And since the film is essentially a highlight reel of the greatest story ever told, that's pretty much every scene in the last hour of the movie or so. The crucifiction is told in such excruciating detail that the film actually makes that boring. I don't care who you are but even the most devout Christians have to agree that watching Jesus try and fail to carry the cross is grating when it goes on for over ten minutes.

The Verdict

     Son of God is a movie that ultimately fails because no one involved could make a good movie. A mini-series, maybe, but as a movie, the film is edited so poorly that it often becomes a confusing, half-baked mess that often can only touch upon the very basic story of Jesus's life. On top of that, the film tries to get over poor production values with an over-the-top styling more fit for a summer blockbuster. The film, though, is mostly just boring. Scenes go on from tens of minutes, milking emotions for all they've got instead of giving us something interesting. The film is just so boring that it's hard to imagine that even the film's target audience will find it entertaining. Son of God gets a star and a half out of 6. Now, I hope people don't take this as a personal attack even after I put up that disclaimer. If only there was a equally bad film featuring a character that's not-religious but nearly as popular with my generation in a boring adaptation of an interesting source material that favors making the title characters seem like the most awesomest things ever instead of telling an actual competent story. Oh, hey there Son of Batman...

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