Thursday, February 22, 2018
Things To Do

Review: The movie 'Son of God' satisfies the faithful

Jesus is back as Christians are promised but not necessarily as planned. Few would have predicted the success of last year's television miniseries The Bible, and fewer would have guessed that recycling and augmenting that material could become a movie.

The result is Son of God, a reverent procession of Jesus' greatest hits, from first miracle to Last Supper and beyond. This isn't a zealous rabble-rouser like The Passion of the Christ, or perceived blasphemy like The Last Temptation of Christ. It's a capable Sunday school lesson with little for anyone to challenge and practically nothing that offends.

Portuguese actor and model Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus, younger and more pop culture magnetic than usual. Morgado bears close resemblance to Brad Pitt, exuding a surfer dude magnetism urging attention. As a darker-skinned Jesus than usual, Morgado's casting is more of a landmark than is his charismatic performance.

Son of God begins with a crash course montage of Old Testament touchstones — Adam and Eve, Noah's ark, etc. — culled from the miniseries, before settling into the Nativity story and growing friction between Roman forces commanded by Pontius Pilate (scowling Greg Hicks) and Jewish leaders fronted by Caiaphas (Adrian Schiller). As Jesus' popularity grows, and his teachings diverge from official, self-serving edicts, Roman and Jewish leaders juggle the young rabbi's fate like a hot potato, neither side wishing to rile its subjects.

Everything culminates with Jesus' crucifixion, a tamer dramatization than Mel Gibson inflicted yet violent enough to make squeamish viewers cringe. Like everything else in Son of God the sequence could use some of Cecil B. DeMille's majestic flair to make it seem like less of a Scripture recitation.

Artistically, Son of God seldom rises above its basic cable roots, framed mostly for TV screens with medium to tight closeups, and telltale fadeouts where commercials would nicely fit. Matte shots establishing locations like Jerusalem look more fake when blown up to theater size. Some supporting performances that come across as too eager or unsubtle can't handle being magnified to large format dimensions.

But spiritually — what Son of God's audience is really interested in — the movie can hardly be faulted. The screenplay, cobbled by four writers in separate sessions, stays true to source material as one expects, with numerous theologians and ministers serving as advisers. (And shills, since their involvement is part of the grass roots marketing plan.) Son of God is content with preaching to a captive choir, who'll consider ticket prices as tithing for what they've seen at home for free.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.

     
     
Comments
Would you stay overnight at the Friday the 13th camp?

Would you stay overnight at the Friday the 13th camp?

The New Jersey summer camp that served as the location for the 1980 horror film Friday the 13th is about to start offering fans the chance to spend the night. Who wants a reservation to stay at Camp Crystal Lake?Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco is the real name of ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Pete bar hosting rock, paper, scissors competition

St. Pete bar hosting rock, paper, scissors competition

ST. PETERSBURG — Paper covers rock. Scissors cut paper. Rock crushes scissors.If you remembered that as a kid, and somehow mastered it as an adult, you could earn some quick cash.The childhood favorite gets an adult twist on Thursday night when SubCe...
Updated: 2 hours ago
‘Annihilation’ is strange, beautiful biological mystery

‘Annihilation’ is strange, beautiful biological mystery

Alex Garland’s Annihilation is a bracing blend of cerebral sci-fi and grindhouse terror, a genre movie that’s more, maybe too much for some viewers.Based on Tallahassee author Jeff VanderMeer’s novel, Annihilation on the surface is a dead-ducks missi...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Events: Imbolo Mbue to discuss, sign Oprah pick ‘Behold the Dreamers’ at Largo library

Book TalkBlake High School student and author Sarah Frank (One Chance) will appear at a book launch for her novel for young readers at 4 p.m. Feb. 25 at Inkwood Books, 1809 N Tampa St., Tampa.Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker (Beyond the Sunshin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 23

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 23

Blast Friday: The Romantics: The family-friendly food and craft vendor festival featuring a free live concert and a beer garden. 5:30 p.m., 400 Block of Cleveland Street, Osceola Avenue and Cleveland Street, Clearwater. Free. (727) 464-7200. Pasco Co...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Gucci models walk the runway carrying replicas of their own heads

Gucci models walk the runway carrying replicas of their own heads

A short list of things typically seen at Milan Fashion Week: celebrities, glamorous outfits and impeccably coifed models.So the replica severed heads were a surprise.During Gucci’s unveiling of its fall and winter collection on Wednesday, at le...
Updated: 5 hours ago
‘The Walking Dead’ looks to the future in heartbreaking mid-Season 8 premiere

‘The Walking Dead’ looks to the future in heartbreaking mid-Season 8 premiere

For the past eight seasons, fans have looked to Carl Grimes for glimpses of The Walking Dead's future.Carl (Chandler Riggs) was the adorable little boy who added another layer of sympathy to the post-apocalyptic drama starting in Season 1 of the AMC ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tampa Bay’s Ries Brothers playing Parkland shooting benefit concert with Austin Mahone, Saigon Kick, more

Tampa Bay’s Ries Brothers playing Parkland shooting benefit concert with Austin Mahone, Saigon Kick, more

The Ries Brothers were driving to a gig in Corpus Christi, Texas, when they heard about the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland."We played Fort Lauderdale like two days before it happened, so it was really bizarre," said...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Review: Mary J. Blige, fresh off Oscar nominations, unleashes soulful fury on Amalie Arena in Tampa

Review: Mary J. Blige, fresh off Oscar nominations, unleashes soulful fury on Amalie Arena in Tampa

It took 10 songs and a solid half hour of furious funk for Mary J. Blige to stop strutting and dancing to sit and sermonize on matters of faith and fidelity."I'm going to say it for you, because I'm a little crazy," she told nearly 6,500 fans Wednesd...
Published: 02/22/18
Review: John Dufresne gives an entertaining short course in ‘Flash! Writing the Very Short Story’

Review: John Dufresne gives an entertaining short course in ‘Flash! Writing the Very Short Story’

Don’t tell John Dufresne you don’t have time to read.In fact, don’t tell him you don’t have time to write. Instead, spend a little time with his new book, Flash! Writing the Very Short Story. You’ll find a treasure trove of stories you can read in th...
Published: 02/22/18