The Passion Of The Christ (2004)

(In theaters, April 2004) There is something tremendously ironic about the mega-success of this film: The first successful melding of religious fervour and Fangoria-grade gore.; the fact that fundamentalist Christians flocked to an R-rated film after decades of decrying too-violent movies; the way some critics forgot all of their usual cinematographic standards in favour of ideological confessions one way or another. It’s almost too easy to forget that there’s an actual film in the middles of the flying fur, and that it’s a flawed film at that. Oh, technically there’s few one can say about it: It’s competently directed, contains a few really nice shots, features very impressive makeup, convincingly recreates a period and is even daring in its stylistic choices. But the pacing of the film is a bit off, the story depends too much on what viewers already know (or can remember) from Sunday School and the gratuitous inclusion of a Satan-of-sorts often makes no sense. This is definitely a throwback to hellfire-and-brimstone old-school Catholicism where Jesus ain’t your buddy given how he suffered for your sins. Considering the film as a B-grade horror film is enlightening, given how the film often (more specifically during it first half-hour) goes for cheap scares in the best tradition of the genre. Alas, the gore isn’t terribly gross (well, there’s a lot of blood, but then again my standard in this area have been forever altered by Dead Alive) and Monica Bellucci doesn’t even show anything under the neck (is that a first?); that’s a waste of a perfectly good R rating right there. All in all, an interesting film but hardly an essential one; see it because everyone else has.

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