An Easter Special: The Passion of the Christ

Spoiler: he comes back at the end.

Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is the Aussie actor/director’s first foray into the area of torture porn. In fact, whilst many might credit Eli Roth with reinventing the subgenre for a modern, mainstream audience, Passion is proof that Mel got there first. And whereas Roth only had an annoying stereotypical gaggle of idiot teenagers being tortured, Gibson went and murdered head honcho Jesus himself. Talk about ambition. You gotta respect a man for that.

Still, and I digress. It’s wrong on so many levels to call The Passion of the Christ ‘torture porn’, since I you’d have to be a serious sadist Devil-worshipping motherfucker to get off on the torture of Jesus. Like I said, talk about ambition. And Gibson wisely manages to avoid most of the subgenre's overfamilar tropes. For one, there's no ballgags. And the bad guys aren't shady European types, but authentic Roman soldiers (or Jews, depending on how you take the movie's hard-to-miss inferred subtexts).

But whilst it may have Romans and the prolonged torture of a Mister Jesus Christ going for it, Gibson’s Passion is an otherwise pretty dull movie. There’s no plot, and it’s a story that’s been told many times before. Aside from some intense, cringeworthy gore, it’s hard to see what this movie could offer anyone. There’s not even any titties. Eli Roth would’ve included some titties. The Passion of the Christ is thoroughly lacking any decent titties, whilst there’s far too much male nudity. Who wants to see scrawny hairy Jim Caviezel in his posing pouch? They could’ve at least hired a looker like Timothy Olyphant. The Passion of the Christ is full of missed opportunities. They have a prostitute played by Monica Belucci, and she doesn’t even fuck anyone. Just what is the point? You'd expect a movie by Mel "sugartits" Gibson to be a bit more sleazy than this is.

And talking of missed opportunities, the hero here is supposed to be the son of God (and as such has a bunch of superpowers and can't die). The movie opens with him facing off with Satan before being betrayed by Judas (really? Gibson has his betrayer character called Judas? That shit’s nearly as lazy as ‘unobtanium’) and violently tortured/left for dead by the Romans. The stage is set for a Steven Seagal style showdown. Only not. Jesus just lets the fuckers torture and kill him. There’s no vengeance, no fight… nothing. What sort of message is that to send out to impressionable viewers? It's nihilistic and irresponsible. For proper handling of such themes, go watch Martyrs instead.

The Passion of the Christ isn’t all bad, just mostly so. The acting is good. Jim Caviezel and Monica Belucci can always be relied upon to give a good performance, and it’s no different here. And kudos to the pair of them for doing the whole thing in Aramaic (although Caviezel’s lines consist of little more than variations of “ow” and “aaaaaagh”, which is a bit of a cop out). Mel Gibson also gives a pretty good performance as a pair of hands, nailing Jesus to the cross. You really can’t tell that it’s Gibson, thanks to the fact that he’s not groping any boobs or clutching a vodka bottle at the time. It’s perhaps his best role to date.

But despite some good acting and groovy, gory special effects, The Passion of the Christ is really not worth getting exited about; let alone building a religion on. And as a remake of that Monty Python flick, it all out sucks. It gets 3/5 Screamers simply because it helped invent the modern 'torture porn' genre. And because Gibson had the sheer bollocks to do it with Jesus Christ himself. Happy Easter everyone.

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