Sunday, October 30, 2016

Movie Review: "The Passion of the Christ" (2004)

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Movie"The Passion of the Christ"
Director: Mel Gibson
Year: 2004
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 7 minutes

Accused of blasphemy, Jesus of Nazareth (Jim Caviezel) is convicted to death by crucifixion and is scourged and crucified.

Mel Gibson might be an insane sexist racist, but he sure as hell has a good eye behind the camera.

Director Mel Gibson shares his take on the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth in "The Passion of the Christ," which is the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time domestically. Taking on the role of Jesus is Jim Caviezel, who seemingly went through hell filming this movie, including being struck by lightning, but hey, they have the same initials! All of the dialogue in the movie is spoken in either Aramaic, Hebrew, or Latin, which was an interesting choice on the part of Gibson. We're glad he opted for a more realistic dialect, and even if it's not 100% historically accurate, this choice at least signals a good effort to create an authentic feel.

As we mentioned, you can say what you will about Mel Gibson the man and his very publicized private life, but he no doubt has a good directorial eye. Gibson makes some beautiful looking movies, even in their brutality, and boy, is this film ever brutal. The cinematography and framing are all gorgeous. Gibson captures the scourge and crucifixion of Jesus in the most detailed, horrifying way possible, but they are framed in such a spectacular way, it's hard to turn away from it, even if you want to do so. The scenes are just flat out disturbing as Jesus is beaten sticks over and over, as he is further whipped with the cat of nine tails as literal pieces of flesh spray in every which direction, tearing off of his body. You thought that was enough? No no, then, the thorny crown is driven way down deep onto Jesus's head for him to adorn for the rest of his natural life. The executioners implement and inflict this torture all while laughing gleefully in an almost sadistic joy as they beat this man within an inch of his life, making it that much more disturbing. We have seen horror films far more tame and much less graphic than what is depicted in "The Passion of the Christ."

All of this being said, these scenes of graphic torture and crucifixion are really all this film has, and they kind of defeat the purpose of the story Gibson is trying to retell. Plus, this story has been told many times before that Gibson's interpretation only serves as the most extreme representation. As cool as the other visuals are, the overuse of slow motion does become a bit excessive and is one of the technical problems we have with the film. These elongated sequences don't add any drama or meaning, they only stretch the already long movie out that much longer. Jim Caviezel does a fine job portraying the son of the man above, and we commend him for speaking in a different language for the entire film, but it's really nothing to write home about. The behind the camera efforts outweigh anything else about this film, and it's definitely not something we want to watch over and over again, even for its technical achievements.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 49%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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