Killing Jesus, the much-anticipated National Geographic//Scott Free Productions television movie which examines the brief life and death of Jesus Christ, has received poor reviews from a prominent Christian group, a strong indication it will not resonate with faith-based audiences.
Faith Driven Consumer, the consumer advocacy organization representing 41 million Christian consumers who spend $2 trillion annually, has given Killing Jesus only three out of five stars, arguing that it fails to properly represent the divinity of Jesus Christ.
"Killing Jesus failed to earn more than three stars because it largely ignores the divinity of Jesus Christ-a non-negotiable for the faith audience," Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer and Certified Brand Strategist, said in a statement.
"This offering from Ridley Scott and National Geographic has strong production values and is entertaining, but its humanistic depiction of the Son of God-void of the divine essence of His life-lacks appeal to audiences who hold this as the pivotal and most important story in all of history and in their personal lives."
The three-hour television event examines the life and death of Christ from three different perspectives: that of the Roman occupiers, the Jewish religious leaders, and his family and followers. According to the film's website, Killing Jesus will give viewers a deeper look into the Biblical account of how Jesus' message and preachings led to his persecution and eventual death.
While Faith Driven Consumer acknowledges the film's "high quality production values and attention to detail that one expects from National Geographic," it warns that it depicts the life and death of Jesus from a "strictly humanistic historical perspective."
"The depiction of Jesus will cause some concern for faith-driven viewers," reads Faith Driven Consumer's review of the film. "While his human anger and frustration in certain circumstances is portrayed in ways that are understandable, KILLING JESUS presents Jesus as a man who only very slowly grows into relationship with God as Father-and the subsequent understanding of who He is and what He's being called to do. Here, Jesus is often depicted as tentative and hesitant-testing the waters to build confidence and showing only flashes of the flint-like resolve and clarity recorded in the Bible."
Killing Jesus, which will premiere on Palm Sunday, is produced by Ridley Scott and based on the New York Times best-selling book by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. The cast includes many well-known actors including Muslim-raised Haaz Sleiman as Jesus, Kelsey Grammer as King Herod, Rufus Sewell as Caiaphas, John Rhys-Davies as Annas, Stephen Moyer as Pilate, Emmanuelle Chriqui as Herodia, and Eoin Macken as Herod Antipas.