February 28, 2014 at 1:00 am

Review: 'Son of God' very faithful, but not so fabulous

Diogo Morgado stars as Jesus of Nazereth in 'Son of God.' (Casey Crafford / LightWorkers Media Inc.)

You feel worse about ripping some films than others.

This is the first feature in recent memory telling us a life-spanning story of Jesus Christ, from his birth through the recruitment of the disciples through the Last Supper and the trial before Pontius Pilate, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. It is the story of the faith in which I was raised, and it is a story told here with great reverence and extremely faithful renditions of scenes from the New Testament.

But, alas, it’s not a good movie.

Based on husband-and-wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s History channel miniseries “The Bible” (with the addition of new footage), “Son of God” stars Portuguese-born heartthrob actor Diogo Morgado as Jesus, who has the shiniest white teeth and the most amazingly coiffed long hair of anyone around as he trods the dusty roads of Jerusalem. Morgado wears a kind of knowing smirk on his face as Jesus enlists the 12 disciples and sets out to preach the word, performing miracles such as feeding the multitudes with just a few fishes and loaves of bread.

It’s not a good performance. Morgado throws himself into the work, especially during the prolonged crucifixion sequence, but he hits a lot of wrong notes. He’s reminiscent of one of those New Age magicians who regard the disbelieving throngs with something resembling compassionate pity before wowing them with another amazing trick.

Adrian Schiller does good work as the scheming Caiaphas, and Greg Hicks gives the best performance in the film as the coldly calculating Pilate, who shrugs off his plan to execute Jesus thusly: “No one will remember his name in a week.”

But regardless of your faith (or mine), this space is for me to tell you if a particular film contains a high enough percentage of compelling elements to warrant you devoting $10 and 138 minutes of your time to the experience.

In all good conscience, it’s not even a close call.

'Son of God'

GRADE: C-

Rated PG-13 (for intense and bloody depiction of the Crucifixion, and for some sequences of violence)

Running time: 138 minutes.