I wasn’t going to bother doing a formal review of “Son of God”. A lot of it simply didn’t appeal to me, but I didn’t think that was reason enough to publicly slam it. Plus, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what really bothered me about it – until late last night.
We had already retired for the evening, when it finally hit me. My husband may or may not have already been sleeping, which may or may not have affected his appreciation for my amazing revelation. Nevertheless, he mumbled his agreement and I decided to write this post after all.
I’ll start with some positive points, because there were quite a few.
I really enjoy books and movies that flesh out historical events and tangibly remind us of the situations, relationships, and emotions that real people endured. Often when we read the Bible, we don’t stop to think about the climate, or the geography, or the political situation, or the family history in which a particular story is set. Those details add great depth to our understanding of what the characters’ lives were like and how that impacts the message of the story. “Son of God” did a great job of capturing the political climate and the reality of life for the Jewish people under Roman rule.
The movie also gave a more realistic portrayal of Jesus’ miracles and relationships than what some of us may remember from Sunday School flannelgraph interpretations. That’s helpful when trying to picture how things actually happened. What did it look like when Jesus multiplied a small lunch and fed 5000 people with it? What did it look like when Peter was walking on the water and then his sudden fear overwhelmed his faith? These portrayals in the movie were very well-done and thought-provoking.
My favourite aspect of the movie was the realistic depiction of the crucifixion. It is critically beneficial to be reminded of the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice and that His agony wasn’t limited to the relatively brief time on the cross. To see Him humbly endure the beatings, the crown of thorns, the weight of the cross – it was gut-wrenching.
There were a few things that annoyed me, from a personal preference perspective. I thought it was over-acted and some of the cinematography was cheesy. More so, the dramatic pauses in all of Jesus’ lines and the aura of mystery infused in all of His conversations, while intended to amplify the intensity of the whole movie, actually detracted from the intensity of the crucifixion. There wasn’t enough build-up of drama to really highlight what should have been the most climactic scene.
Here’s what bothered me the most, what jolted me fully awake last night: the movie completely missed the whole Gospel message! For believers who already understand why Jesus died, it’s easy to apply that knowledge to the movie and focus on renewing our understanding of the magnitude of His sacrifice. But the movie itself did not explain the problem of sin and the need for atonement through a perfect sacrifice. “Son of God” doesn’t come right out and tell us that God became flesh for the sole purpose of rescuing humanity from the clutches of hell by taking our death penalty upon Himself.
That’s kind of a major point to omit!
Overall, it’s a worthwhile movie. But if you are a believer and you have a chance to discuss the film with people who didn’t grow up in a Bible-teaching church, make sure you bring the conversation around to the question of why Jesus did what He did. If you leave that up to what was shown on-screen, they will walk away thinking it was all about political tensions and fulfilling ancient prophecies. And that means they will have completely missed the true Son of God.