By Sam Lam
Last night I had a chance to watch a free screening of the new movie “Son of God” and this is my review/reaction to the film.
It’s not easy creating a Jesus movie and having it be real good. Especially since the story of Jesus has so many layers to it, you can’t cover all of them in a film. And since the last major motion Jesus film came out 10 years ago (“The Passion of the Christ”) it was a big deal to see how this one would do.
With that said, I have been a major critic of how Jesus has been portrayed in film in the past. In fact, I am fascinated about how the world views Him. So entering into this film, I was afraid that the Jesus we were going to get would be a boring one like the many ones we’ve seen in movies past. Instead, this Jesus had an edge to him, a swag that I wasn’t ready to see. And because of this, this was the side of Jesus in film that I had never seen before.
As mentioned earlier, there were a lot of things from Jesus’ life that could not be fit into the movie. His baptism, various miracles were delegated to the ending credits. The movie was told from the perspective of the apostle John and throughout the entire movie, a follower named Mary (not Martha’s sister, possibly Magdalene?) actually hung out with Jesus along with the 12 disciples. (I guess total factual accuracies were sacrificed to make the Hollywood film, well, Hollywood.) Throughout the first part of the movie, it feels that they had to condense and rush through some key miracles and messages before they got to the Last Supper — but it’s understandable. But I was impressed with one scene from it.
When Jesus walked on water, I give a huge high-five to the CGI team because it was actually very haunting, it was exactly the portrayal that Peter must have had when he saw Jesus. He was dark, he was distant and grainy. It was perfect. It’s a really well-done scene and it captured the swag that Jesus had in the film.
So what exactly about Jesus made him so awesome? Throughout the movie, I was waiting for a soft-spoken Jesus, the one that we have been used to seeing in film. Instead, we saw a Jesus that spoke with authority. Sure, he didn’t yell, but every time He spoke, the way he delivered it was straight and to the point. Pharisees would be rendered speechless because Jesus continued to drop truth and they had no idea how to respond.
And maybe that’s why my initial fear of this Jesus was washed away. This Jesus had a human element to Him, but unlike the other Jesus films I’ve seen, this one walked with real confidence. This Jesus believed in His mission from God. This Jesus was fresh. And whatever he preached, everyone grabbed onto his every word. I would imagine that was how it was really like back then.
This film didn’t get too preachy and I think the acting really made up for the message. It still was enough where I think that a non-Christian unfamiliar with Jesus would be interested to know more. The story portrayed really captured the suffering and pain that the people were going through and what a Messiah really means to them.
I would recommend this to anyone. It still isn’t my favorite Jesus movie of all time, but I think the message delivered is really strong and it still makes us wonder about how amazing Jesus was during all that time of struggle. And in terms of cinematography, the final hour of His time on the cross was really an intense, gut-wrenching part of the film.
Like the mustard seed, this is a good film to get someone interested or started on who Jesus is. And like the seed, I see this movie has the potential to grow. Even for those who already know Jesus, I don’t think you’ve seen a movie Jesus with this much confidence, swag and style. That’s the kind of Jesus I would like to see more of in the future.
The free screening was hosted by The House LA. They opened up the evening with a few worship songs (led by a pretty awesome little band) and it was nice to have that. Never seen that before but they were really welcoming. I might give them a check out one of these days.
Samuel Lam: Samuel is a Bay Area native living in Southern California working in sports media. He blogs on many topics, including sports, music, movies, travel and especially faith. Sam also runs his own personal sports blog on his free time. Check him out at: Green Eggs and Lam & But At The End Of The Day.