Review: Son of God
To review Son of God I think I need to give you my religious history. Because it really only reinforces whatever you bring in to it.
Here’s what I took in with me: growing up, I would go to a Presbyterian Church twice a year, on Christmas and on Easter. It was downtown. I liked going because it was old and something different. People wore suits. My grandma loved showing us off when we went and the pastor was nice.
When I was in middle school I regularly went with some friends to a Quaker church. I kept going because I liked the community and I had a crush on a girl in youth group. I went for a year. We sang Tom Petty songs at the Quaker church. The Quakers, also called the Society of Friends, evolve more than most Christian clans. I attended a gay promise ceremony because weddings were not (and still are not) legal in that state. I also went down to the Snake River to witness some baptisms. Everyone was nice around me but I never really felt anything other than I liked going because people were nice.
Then I traveled with the same friends to a big Christian concert in The Gorge. There were 40,000 people. I think it was called Creation Fest. This massive crowd made me uneasy. All talk was singular. No one sang Tom Petty (and you could stand him up at the gates of hell and he wouldn’t back down). Nightfall came and some band played some song and all these hands went up into the air, palms up. Thousands and thousands of hands and it made me really uncomfortable.
It was fine when I didn’t feel anything metaphysical stir inside me in a small room with nice folks who strummed a guitar, fed the homeless and gave hi-fives. But amongst a sea of people who felt something or faked that they felt something was too much for me. I never went back to church.
Then I started masturbating. I wouldn’t say that I prayed, but I would discuss with God about how I’d stop doing that, but then I would do it even more than before. I thought God wept for me, then hated me and I ended up hating myself.
Then I got over it.
I registered as a conscientious objector with the Army due to going to a Quaker Church.
I also became a conscientious objector to organized religion. I could never register as an atheist, though. That just never felt right. So I guess I felt just a tinge of something before. Maybe it was shame, but I could never fully tip the scales into full-bodied atheism. In college, I heard the term agnostic and I went with that. And everything, for the most part, has been fine with my spirit and genital stimulation.
What I learned from my religious dabbling was that I had nothing against any religion, just how larger groups can use it. So that’s what I brought into seeing Son of God. Attempting to be respectful and objective.
So, why do I bring up masturbation?
Because Son of God is a cash grab. It’s self-stimulation of the most offensive order. Son of God is Fox masturbating in a closet thinking of turning a quick buck off of a minor investment.
Except I doubt that they feel any shame.
Son of God is not a movie. It’s an edited down version of a television series that already aired. It was called The Bible. There were ten episodes, the great Keith David narrated it and five episodes focused on Jesus. It’s the most purchased mini-series of all time. It was the most watched cable mini-series of all time and the most watched non-sporting cable event of all time. Son of God essentially has no new scenes, it’s only been trimmed to just over two hours. It even supplies an opening synopsis of everything that happened in the Old Testament before Jesus’ birth – also scenes from the mini-series. It condenses five hours of television into a safe theatrical running time. For more money. I guess Fox is merely the tax collector that Jesus says we should forgive.
You might read that this is the first film made about Jesus’ life since The Passion of The Christ but that isn’t true. Mel Gibson’s film was a movie. It was produced for the sole purpose (the soul purpose?) of theatrical distribution. It looked good. Son of God has the quality of The History Channel because – it was made by The History Channel! All the clothes are pristine and new. They look like they need to be returned to Western Costume without any damages done. There are a few too many perms. Jesus (Diogo Morgado) doesn’t look like he walked on water, it looks like he’s walking straight into a 30 Seconds to Mars video shoot.
This is Jesus: Greatest Hits. It’s repackaged as being re-mastered but it’s nothing at all different from the original Bible series.
I trotted out my very basic Christian knowledge because even I knew every line and every scenario that was going to be highlighted in Son of God. Jesus’ first scene: making fish. No need to give Judas (Joe Wredden) any substantial dialogue, just say his name because you know what card he’s gonna play later. Also look directly at Thomas (Matthew Gravelle) and say, “stop doubting, Thomas.”
I’d like to think that, as a group, Christians could handle a more interesting film.
I think back to the smaller group meetings that I attended as part of the Quaker church. There were good discussions there. There were fewer judgments. It’s the masses mentality that keeps everything so cookie cutter. I do know that Christians deserve a better, actual film. I also know that there is a smaller audience for that. But Hollywood isn’t interested in that. When it comes to religious films, they just want to paddle out with believers, toss out a net and rake it in.
As for my rating, I guess it’s not a total dismissal. Just like my confession of agnosticism above. Like Jim Caviezel before him, Morgada’s failing muscles and isolating fear while enduring public torture is the only humanity he’s allowed to perform as Jesus – but around the 100 minute mark there’s an average thriller section about the race to judge Jesus for the purpose of crowd control.
But hey, if Son of God does happen to remind some folks that they have no stones to throw at others, and that there’s hypocrisy in denying any person service or second chances on the basis of their Christianity, I will not be a conscientious objector.