We can't remember why this movie screened after WW press deadlines, or why it took so long for this review to make its way online. Like religion, it's probably best left unexplained.
Critic's Grade: D
While it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn that Son Of God was adapted from another medium, this retelling of the story of Jesus Christ borrows less from the Bible than from The Bible: The film was adapted from last year's extremely successful History Channel miniseries. The opening moment features an Old Testament greatest-hits medley that perhaps unfairly whets appetites for a decidedly smaller-scale affair. Compared to Noah sailing the Great Flood or Moses parting the Red Sea, Jesus' miracles look more like card tricks (so many involve fish), and, without any attempts to invest the character with mortal frailties or divine some larger symbolism from his final days, the result seems far from the greatest story ever told.
After the three wise men's brief visit with an already wearily devout Mary—played by Touched By An Angel's Roma Downey, who produced the film with her husband, reality-programming legend Mark Burnett—we're introduced to a Christ fully grown and swimming in beatitude. As played by Portuguese heartthrob Diogo Morgado, our hero sets out getting the band together by forcing meet-cutes with each apostle and generally papering over wholly reasonable questions with a self-delight bordering on arrogance. Has any iteration of Christ so clearly betrayed a Rock Star complex?
Intercut with presumably meatier swaths of melodrama, this all might have been forgivable within the bounds of a tightly-woven series, but, on its own, the first half quickly fades into a paint-by-numbers recapitulation of the best-known quotes and sequences. With the apostles all but indistinguishable—save for a Judas oozing disrepute and the ever-doubting Thomas, who looks like a soccer hooligan for reasons never explained—the conflicted villains of our tale effortlessly steal center stage as the action moves to a cheaply CGI-modeled Jerusalem. In spite of itself, the film can't help but latch hold of the last temptations of Pontius Pilate as the Roman prefect displays some recognizable humanity during the interminable last chapter, and we can't quite help but wish the Stations of the Cross would hurry along so we could return to the domestic disputes of Pilate and his wife. Alas, after a resurrection scene that feels especially tacked-on, our sermon has ended, and I don't think the sequel's coming any time soon.