"Son of God" is a spin-off from last year's hugely successful History Channel miniseries, The Bible, focusing strictly on material pertaining to Jesus, from birth to crucifixion to resurrection. If you hadn't previously seen the miniseries, the Old Testament content is addressed in a swiftly paced preamble.
The entire film is told from the point of view of the Apostle John, who was personally responsible for 5 books in the New Testament, including the Book of Revelation. Jesus (Diogo Marado) begins His ministry and performs miracles that raise the ire of the High Priest Caiaphas, who dismisses Jesus as a blasphemer who uses demons. I've never been able to understand how a man in Caiaphas' station could be that dense as to not recognize the Messiah, especially when he's been called out for his hypocrisy.
However, there are some glaring defects in the adaptation of the Gospels. To wit:
*--Mary Magdalene is depicted as traveling with Jesus and His disciples, but that was never always the case. She was the first one to discover He'd been resurrected, but her role in the story was expanded.
*--This also applies to Nicodemus, whose meeting with Jesus is told at the beginning of chapter 3 of the Gospel of John. However, in the movie, it is shown prior to Jesus' betrayal and subsequent arrest.
*--Jesus had warned Peter that he would in fact deny Him three times. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Peter's denials came at night, during Jesus' trial. The movie depicts the denials being in broad daylight, after sentence had already been passed. Worse, there was no rooster, which was part of the original prophesy. Apparently, they couldn't find one that could crow on command.
*--Pontius Pilate is depicted as a far more cruel tyrant, rather than being sympathetic to Jesus. In turn, his wife, Claudia, has a vision of Jesus' torture, and warns Pilate that he will regret his actions. Indeed, the Romans are cruel and unforgiving to the people of Israel.
The husband & wife team of executive producers Mark Burnett (Survivor) and Roma Downey (ex-Touched By An Angel) thought that by moving a few pieces around, they could build a little extra suspense. Uh, no. Downey also plays Jesus' mother, Mary, and is featured prominently, especially near the end of the movie during the crucifixion sequence. In fact, she is the only "name" actress in the cast.
To give you some idea of the movie, here's the trailer:
"God's Not Dead" (opens next week): 90's icon Kevin Sorbo stars as a college professor who doesn't believe in God. Co-starring Dean Cain, with music by the Newsboys.
"The Fault in Our Stars" (Summer): A young woman, already on oxygen, struggles to deal not only with her affliction, but the affections of a young man who has fallen for her.
"Heaven Is For Real" (April 16): A pastor's pre-school aged son has a near-death experience that takes him to Heaven & back. A true story that became a best-seller. With Greg Kinnear and Thomas Haden Church.
"Rio 2" (?): If you saw the first film, prepare for more outrageousness. Voices include George Lopez, Anne Hathaway, & Jamie Foxx.
"Son of God" merits a B.