[Last week my awesome intern Matt, went with some students to see the movie Son of God. Here’s his helpful review of the movie. As well as some great discussion questions you can use with families, friends or small groups. You can read more great stuff by Matt at his blog http://receivedhome.wordpress.com ]
In a sentence, the basic synopsis of Son of God is the Apostle John recounting the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus while exiled on the island of Patmos. The movie covers many of the stories from the Gospel of John, though few of them are in their entirety and the order of events is somewhat changed. In order to cut the Book of John down to fit in a two-and-a-half-hour movie, though, it’s understandable that one would have to edit a lot of the material.
I’ll start out with the things I liked about the movie. My favorite scene was probably the one where the teacher of the law asked Jesus about whether or not they should pay taxes to Caesar. It was very clear that the Jews wanted Jesus to say no and that the question was a trap. The portrayal of the scene as a whole was well done, establishing the tension and Jesus’ ability to answer and bring the focus back to God. I thought the way the crucifixion and resurrection were done was handled well. I liked how the movie showed the faith and doubts of the disciples. The disciples weren’t perfect, nor were they idiots. They were realistic and relatable, questioning the logic of what Jesus or the Pharisees would say, discussing events among themselves, and encouraging one another. I could see myself thinking, saying, and doing the same things as they did in the movie. This is significant because we are Jesus’ disciples and can go through many of the same things they went through 2000 years ago.
While there was plenty that I liked about the movie, some scenes honestly made me cringe. Usually, it wasn’t even because of an inaccuracy (of which there were a few), but because of the way a scene was portrayed. One such instance was when Jesus says that not one stone of the Temple will be left unturned (which He says to one of His disciples in Mark 13), He is saying it with a huge, happy-go-lucky smile to a little girl who laughs when He says it. That and several other scenes made me concerned that they would not be taken seriously by the audience, especially non-Christians. Also, the actor who played Jesus in the movie seemed to struggle with showing emotions. He didn’t even cry when Lazarus died, though a small attempt was made to do so after Lazarus was raised from the dead (also, Lazarus’ eyes opening up at the same time as Jesus’—a little creepy). He was almost robotic in the way he turned over the money changers’ tables. There were also a couple times when Jesus seemed surprised that something happened or was about to happen.
I think a couple of things would have improved this movie. First, an explanation of how Mary Magdalene came to follow Jesus would have been helpful. Second, I believe John 20:30-31 should have been referenced at some point in the movie (perhaps it was and I just missed it). Lastly, Luke’s account of what happened after Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah should have been in the movie (Luke 4:16-30). I just think that would have been an amazing scene.
Discussion Questions for the Movie:
What was your favorite scene? What was your least favorite? Why?
How did this movie show Jesus was the Son of God?
Could you relate to any of the disciples? Which ones? When? How or why not?
Has this movie allowed you to see the Bible in a new way?