In the beginning was the Bible. The Bible begat the History Channel's "The Bible" miniseries. Now "The Bible" has begotten the movie "Son of God," which is essentially the second half of the miniseries, the New Testament, recut to feature length.
The film emphasizes spectacle and slights the teachings and parables of Jesus, played by Diogo Morgado. But to its credit, "Son of God" proves more than a mere watered-down "The Passion of the Christ."
The epic proportions of the miniseries hold up well on the big screen, save for the digitally composed establishing shots of Jerusalem. Whereas some editing patterns and musical cues in "The Bible" evoked co-producer Mark Burnett's reality-TV juggernaut "Survivor" (a show not without its own heavy religious symbolism), film composers Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe have changed their tune here quite a bit to cinematic effect.
The commendable color-blind casting of the miniseries was undone by the kerfuffle over the resemblance between its Satan (Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni) and President Obama. "Son of God" has excised the character altogether, effectively squashing the controversy.
Still, the film can be best analogized as the "Bible" equivalent of a "Survivor" midseason clip show. John the Apostle (Sebastian Knapp) narrates the proceedings like "Survivor" host Jeff Probst would.
If "The Bible" was CliffsNotes for the Scriptures, "Son of God" is the cheat sheet. The two-hour film condenses about four hours of what already was hasty television, and it all winds up a little dramatically static.
'Son of God'
MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense and bloody depiction of the Crucifixion and for other violence.
Running time: 2 hours, 18 minutes.
Playing: In general release.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times