1. Arts & Entertainment

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

Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus, undergoing a brutal trial here.
Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus, undergoing a brutal trial here.
Published Feb. 27, 2014

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 or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.


  1. YBN Cordae will perform at Wild Splash at Clearwater's Coachman Park on March 7. [Jimmy Fontaine]
    Catch up on today’s Tampa Bay concert announcements.
  2. Clockwise from left: Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Piña Colada Candy Apple, Candy Corn and Cheeseburger-On-A-Stick [Courtesy of the Florida State Fair]
    Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Piña Colada Candy Apples and more are coming to the Florida State Fair.
  3. The cans feature pups who are up for adoption at Shelter Manatee. [Motorworks Brewing]
    The beer, available for purchase in packs of four and cases of 24, will be available until they sell out, the brewery says.
  4. Pablo Picasso's scene design for Pulcinella is part of the "Art of the Stage: Picasso to Hockney" exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, which will open on Jan. 25. [Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg]
    ‘Art of the Stage’ opens at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Tampa Museum of Art opens ‘White Gold,’ plus Art Festival Beth-El returns.
  5. Treasure Island will host a grand opening for its new dog park at Roselli Park on Jan. 25. [Courtesy of Tom Germond]
    Play with pups in Treasure Island or party in Kenneth City, plus get some new ideas to spruce up the house.
  6. Isabel Allende's new novel is "A Long Petal of the Sea." [Courtesy of Lori Barra]
    Writers in Paradise at Eckerd College also offers readings by Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, Billy Collins and more.
  7. "The Song of Names" stars Luke Doyle as Dovidl. [SABRINA LANTOS  |  Sony Pictures Classics]
    ‘The Last Full Measure’ and ‘The Turning’ complete this guide to box office newcomers.
  8. Pompei Monster Factory will feature an "Alice in Wonderland"-themed ride during the Fourth Saturday Art Walk at the Pinellas Art Village on Jan. 25. [Courtesy of Michelle Schultz]
    Plus, a book sale at the Largo library and a shabby chic and home decor show in Wesley Chapel.
  9. Alicia Keys will perform at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa on Sept. 20. [Milan Zrnic]
    The Grammy-winning superstar is scaling down from the arenas she’s used to.
  10. Kumquats in Dade City. [Times (2002)]
    Plus, St. Petersburg restaurant German Knodle made Yelp’s list of the top 100 places to eat.