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Kyla’s Movie Review

SON OF GOD (PG-13) - Starring Diogo Morgado, Amber Rose Revah, Sebastian Knapp, Greg Hicks, Adrian Schiller and Roma Downey. Television producer Mark Burnett and his wife — “Touched by an Angel” actress Roma Downey — helped take five Jesus-oriented episodes of “The Bible,” which was a big hit last year on the History Channel, and turn them into “Son of God” for the big screen. Their abridgment begins with nativity, culminates with betrayal and then crucifixion, and concludes with resurrection. Meanwhile, the Portuguese actor, Diogo Morgado, plays the title figure as a precious holy instrument, wrapped in muslin, his arms outstretched, forever proclaiming his ministry. The movie proceeds with stiff staging, stiff acting and the stiff, tear-streamed face of Downey as the Virgin Mary. The film politely omits the televised sequence with Satan (people complained he looked too much like Barack Obama), adds deleted scenes and divides its villainy between the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate (Hicks) and the Jewish high priest Caiaphas (Schiller). Morgado does an OK job, but the film is grueling in its mildness. There’s no need to spend money and traveling to see something you could just have easily stayed at home to watch. RATING: C+

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (R) - Starring Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro, Jack O’Connell and Callan Mulvey. This is the sequel to the 2006 hit, “300.” It’s based on the graphic novel, “Xerxes,” by Frank Miller. This time, the battle is mostly on water, where the Athenian known as Themistokles (Stapleton) has tried to unite all the Greek city-states in their common defense. Only Sparta objected, with Queen Gorgo (Headey), having decided they’ve given enough. The bulk of the film consists of showing the clever ways in which Themistokles leads his forces both on offense and defense against greatly superior forces. Then there’s a subplot about a young warrior (O’Connell) wanting to prove himself worthy, with one exception. The Persian forces are led by Artemisia (Green) and when she’s on screen, the movie jumps out at you even more so than with the 3D glasses. She’s got a backstory that causes her to hate the Greeks (even though she is one) and she is utterly ruthless. This is a woman who uses her sexual prowess as a weapon, and it can be deadly as any other. In “300,” the largest character by far was Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his absence in the sequel is keenly felt. Stapleton’s Themistocles is a poor substitute. The character is mundane and his speeches lack the fire-and-brimstone of Leonidas’ pep talks. RATING: C-

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