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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Christopher Spencer
Cast:
Diogo Morgado, Sebastian Knapp, Greg Hicks
Writing Credits:
Richard Bedser, Christopher Spencer, Colin Swash, Nic Young

Tagline:
Their Empire. His Kingdom.

Synopsis:
The life story of Jesus is told from his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection.

Box Office:
Budget
$22 million
Opening Weekend
$26,500,000 on 3,260 Screens
Domestic Gross
$59,666,589

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 138 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 6/3/2014

Bonus:
• “Son of God: Reborn” Featurette
• “From the Set: The Passion” Featurette
• “Son of God: Un Reino Sin Fronteras” Featurette
• Trailer
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Son of God [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 1, 2014)

In 2013, the History Channel aired a mini-series called The Bible. Parts of this eight-hour program got edited into a 138-minute 2014 feature film called Son of God, one with an emphasis on the life and times of Jesus.

Told as a recollection from disciple John (Sebastian Knapp), Son briefly shows Jesus’s birth, but it quickly leaps to the adult (Diego Diogo Morgado). Under Pontius Pilate (Greg Hicks), the Romans rule Galilee in an oppressive manner, and Jesus enters this land to spread his beliefs.

As soon as he arrives, Jesus earns a reputation as a spiritual leader. When he encounters fisherman Peter (Darwin Shaw), he appears to perform a miracle, as he brings fish to a previously barren spot.

From there, Jesus performs more wondrous deeds and recruits more followers. This threatens Roman rule and… well, I suspect you know the rest.

Which becomes a potential issue with Son and any other movie about Jesus. After all, we’ve gotten scores of takes on the same topic, so how can someone make the story fresh and different? I wasn’t wild about 2004’s The Passion of the Christ, but at least I respect its attempts to do something unique.

Unfortunately, the ordinary Son lacks any qualities to make it stand out from the crowd. Like many others in the genre, it tends toward a “Jesus’s greatest hits” feel, as it touches on the character’s best-known actions and little else.

I didn’t see The Bible, and it obviously included a lot more than just material about Jesus. I think Son would’ve been better suited as a mini-series in its own right. I’m not sure why the filmmakers chose to cut down the project and release these parts as a feature but the abbreviated format doesn’t serve the story well.

This becomes especially true because the edits can be awkward. For the most part, Son flows in a reasonably smooth manner, but some awkward shifts can occur. I won’t say it necessarily feels like something is missing, but there’s a lack of fluidity on display, as the film can jump from one area to another in a jarring way. We also still find the occasional fade that existed for commercials, and that creates another off-putting shift.

Even without the awkward cuts, Son lacks much to allow it to prosper. I simply discern little to no emotion or passion in this project. It hits the expected notes in dutiful manner but fails to bring any drama or feeling to the matter. With little in the way of depth, the tale can’t turn into anything more than a pedestrian version of Jesus’s life.

The production also always shows its TV mini-series roots. While I don’t think Son looks cheap, it never quite feels like a feature film. Effects and stunts come across as less than convincing, and the cast can’t add much to their roles. They give us passable performances but nothing more than that.

Son never becomes a truly bad film, but it does nothing to make itself memorable. Given how many other movies tell the same story, one can find something much more satisfying than this mediocre effort.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus D+

Son of God appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. For the most part, the image looked positive.

Sharpness usually seemed fine. Some wide shots displayed mild softness, but those instances remained minor. The majority of the flick offered pretty good clarity. No issues with jaggies or moiré effects occurred, and I witnessed no edge haloes. Print flaws failed to mar the presentation.

In terms of colors, Son went with a sandy palette to match its desert setting. Though we got some teal for water-based shots, not many brighter hues appeared, and that was fine, as the arid look suited the story. Blacks were a little inky but usually seemed deep enough, and shadows showed good smoothness. This wasn’t a great image but it merited a “B”.

Perhaps a reflection of the source project’s TV mini-series roots, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack didn’t seem especially strong. This didn’t mean it was bad, though – it simply lacked the quality I’d expect from a theatrical film.

This became reflected mostly in the semi-vague soundscape. While the movie used all five speakers in an active way, it did so without great localization or blending. Even big “action scenes” like one during a thunderstorm at sea failed to use the channels in a distinctive manner. We got material all around us but didn’t hear the elements in an especially natural manner.

This left the soundfield as a bit too vague for a modern project. Occasional exceptions occurred, such as when we found ourselves “inside” a cart; the wheels rattled on the sides in a convincing manner. The movie did fine in those quieter moments; it just fell short in the louder scenes, as it couldn’t match the ambition those required.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music was full and rich, while effects appeared adequate. They came without distortion or flaws but simply suffered from the nature of the source, as they didn’t get the best representation. This was an acceptable but mediocre soundtrack.

A few featurettes fill out the set. Son of God: Reborn goes for 28 minutes, 33 seconds and includes producers Richard Bedser and Mark Burnett, actor/producer Roma Downey, Pastor Joel Osteen, director Christopher Spencer, theological and creative consultant Bob Beltz, Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Pastor Rick Warren, Reverend Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, Touched By an Angel castmember Della Reese, Pastor Charles Jenkins, composer Hans Zimmer, soloist Lisa Gerrard, Archbishop of Los Angeles Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez, and actors Diogo Morgado, Joe Wreddon, Darwin Shaw, Sebastian Knapp, and Matthew Gravelle. “Reborn” covers the development of the film from the original Bible mini-series, the film’s take on the characters/story, period details and attempts at realism, cast and performances, various effects, music, and related elements.

Actually, “related elements” take up more time in “Reborn” than actual movie-making notes. Much of the program talks about Christianity and tells us how awesome the film is. Both attitudes are fine but seem out of place on a retail product like this. I suspect this is preaching to the choir anyway, as I’d guess the vast majority of those who buy Son will already be dedicated Christians, so I’m not sure what purpose this piece serves. All I do know is that it tells us very little about the creation of the movie.

From the Set: The Passion lasts seven minutes, 19 seconds and provides footage from the production. It alternates between raw video material and the same scenes as depicted in the final film. This becomes a decent look behind the scenes.

Finally, we get the 22-minute, 58-second Son of God: Un Reino Sin Fronteras. It provides notes from Downey, Gomez, Rodriguez, Burnett, Morgado, Shaw, Warren, Reverend Gabriel Salguero, production designer Alan Spalding, Reverend AR Bernard, Pastor Bill Hybels, and actors Eduardo Verastegui, Adal Ramones, Jacqueline Bracamontes, Carlos Ponce, Blanca Soto, Alexander Acha, Giovanna Acha, and Adriana Barraza. “Reino” offers a program similar to “Reborn” except it’s in Spanish and emphasizes the Spanish translation of the film. It’s a little less “faith-based” but it’s still not an interesting look at film-related subjects.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a DVD copy of Son. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

After more than a century of films based on the life of Jesus, filmmakers need to do something special to elevate the material. That doesn’t occur in 2014’s Son of God, a watchable but wholly mediocre take on the tale. The Blu-ray comes with pretty good picture, decent sound and a few minor bonus materials. Those with an interest in Bible tales can do better than this pedestrian, lackluster version of the story.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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