A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Son of God is re-purposed material from the History Channel's The Bible miniseries concentrating on the story of Jesus' ministry years, death, and resurrection. Although it's not quite as bloody and violent as The Passion of the Christ, the movie still features the violence of the crucifixion, like Jesus' flogging, the crown of thorns, and the nailing to the cross. There are close-ups of a bloody and beaten Jesus, as well as the two thieves crucified beside him. There are also scenes of dead Israelites killed by Roman guards, a child who is crushed and killed by a cart, and Judas hanging himself. Families must decide whether their kids are ready to see some of the more disturbing and bloody aspects of Jesus' story.
What's the story?
To release SON OF GOD, husband-and-wife film producers and devout Catholics Mark Burnett and actress Roma Downey have repackaged the Jesus-centered portions of their wildly successful The Bible miniseries, which aired on the History Channel in 2013. Son of God isn't exactly like the four episodes in the miniseries that chronicle Jesus' life -- instead the film skips over Jesus' childhood and baptism and goes from birth to his finding his disciples. Narrated by the disciple John the Evangelist (Sebastian Knapp), the movie chronicles how Jesus (Diogo Morgado) performed miracles, preached about forgiveness and love, was persecuted by the high priests and Pontius Pilate, was crucified, and then was resurrected.
Is it any good?
Christian viewers looking for a traditional retelling of the story of Jesus' ministry years will find this a fine, if incomplete, tale. The production values are good, some of the actors are better than good, particularly English actors Darwin Shaw as the intense and hotheaded disciple Peter, Greg Hicks as the most famous Roman prefect in history, Pontius Pilate, and Knapp as the dearest disciple John. Jesus is played by the distractingly attractive Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado, whose indeterminate accent and occasionally off line readings make him less effective than Jim Caviezel in The Passion of the Christ.
Overall, the movie is a rather bland adaptation of Jesus' ministry, with somewhat bizarre and inexplicably extreme close-ups and disappointing computer-generated depictions of ancient landscapes. One of the best parts of the movie is Hans Zimmer's swelling score, but ultimately this doesn't feel like a complete or particularly memorable picture. Except as a ministry tool for church youth groups, Son of God is not the most stirring depiction of Jesus' life. Jesus Christ Superstar and VeggieTales DVDs are far more memorable, and those familiar with Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical may find themselves singing it in their head as they watch along.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this movie compares to other interpretations of the life of Jesus. Do you think movies with religious themes appeal to general audiences or just believers?
The filmmakers removed the last temptation of Christ that proved controversial in the miniseries. Do you think that was a good idea, or was it strange to see a movie about Jesus that omits this part of his life?
Was it smart for the filmmakers to hire lesser-known actors play Jesus and the disciples? Would it have been odd to see a better-known actor play Jesus?
- In theaters: February 28, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: June 3, 2014
- Cast: Roma Downey, Diogo Morgado, Sebastian Knapp
- Director: Christopher Spencer
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, History
- Run time: 138 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense and bloody depiction of The Crucifixion, and for some sequences of violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.