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Some secular movie reviews

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bullet " cannot rely on any critic for this film because a biased opinion lies behind every review. Almost every viewer of this movie had a very strong opinion before they laid eyes on it." Danny Minton 6

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Mel Gibson (b. 1958) is an Academy Award winning actor and director. He co-wrote, directed, co-produced, and financed the "The Passion of the Christ." The movie opened in thousands of movie theatres across North America on 2004-FEB-25 -- Ash Wednesday., a web site that monitors new movies, found that, by MAR-1, 53% of the 162 critics that they checked gave the movie a positive review. 7 On a regional basis, 69% in the Midwest, 64% in the South,  43% in the West and 35% in the Northeast were positive. However, in major metropolitan areas, only 36% of the reviews were positive. 5

A sampling of excerpts from movie reviews continues below.

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Comments by movie reviewers:

Yahoo! scanned 14 media reviews of 'The Passion' and computed an average rating of B-. Some of these reviews, and others from a Southern Baptist web site and from the massive Rotten Tomatoes site follow:

bullet Negative Associated Press: "Gibson has said he wants his film to be shockingly graphic to show the humanity of Christ's sacrifice. But the idea that children should see "The Passion" as a learning device — that churches are organizing screenings and theater trips for their parishioners and catechism classes — is truly shocking. Grown-ups — even true believers — will have difficulty sitting through the film. Just think of the trauma it will inflict on kids."
bullet Positive Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "This is a movie so singular, so intense, so overwhelming that it simply has to be experienced. And nothing can prepare you for how brutal, how shocking, how awash in blood and pain Gibson has made his version of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

"The Passion" is so radically different from the normal movie going experience that people are going to have wildly varying reactions to it (the recent debate over anti-Semitism is just an inkling of the chasms of perception). A devout evangelical Christian, a Jew, an agnostic, a Muslim, a lukewarm believer may react so differently they might just as well have seen different movies.
" 4
bullet Positive Austin-American Statesman: "It strikes an honorable balance between the literary history of the Gospels and the selling endpoint of Hollywood spectacle.
bullet Negative The Boston Globe: "More obsessed with capturing every holy drop of martyr's blood than with any message of Christian love...any parent -- no matter how devout and well-intentioned -- who takes a child to this movie is guilty of abuse."
bullet Positive Roger Ebert: "This is the most violent film I have ever seen....It will probably be the most violent you have ever seen. This is not a criticism but an observation; the film is unsuitable for younger viewers, but works powerfully for those who can endure it."
bullet Positive Dallas Morning News: "Controversy aside, it is dramatically intense, skillfully constructed and often harrowing, in ways that should have an impact on people of any or no particular faith."
bullet Negative Film Blather: "If what you are looking for is an overwrought, hyper-violent reenactment of Jesus' final hours, that is what you will get here, and no more."
bullet Positive Flipside Movie Emporium: "Retains a real sense of power. Its message never wavers, always visible beneath the gore."
bullet Neutral The Hollywood Reporter: "Technically, the film is a beauty...if only Gibson had chosen to highlight spiritual truth rather than physical realism."
bullet Neutral The Kalamazoo Gazette: "the cinematic equivalent of a Rorschach inkblot: You will probably see in it whatever you choose to see in it. "
bullet Positive Kansas City Star: "One thing is certain: Gibson has delivered a film so visceral, so unwavering in his commitment, that it makes most other Jesus movies look pale and tepid."
bullet Negative Lawrence Journal World: "The Passion of the Christ plays like a blend of a political-theology lesson and a snuff film."
bullet Negative The Los Angeles Daily News: "It's as if Gibson is measuring God's love by the amount of blood he shows on the screen."
bullet Positive Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Regardless of how you feel about the movie's message, you're certain to leave the movie feeling something about the movie itself."
bullet Negative New Yorker Magazine: "Bears the same relation to other biblical epics as a charnel house does to your local deli."
bullet Negative The New York Times: "The Passion of the Christ is so relentlessly focused on the savagery of Jesus' final hours that this film seems to arise less from love than from wrath, and to succeed more in assaulting the spirit than in uplifting it."
bullet Negative Newsday:  "The Passion of the Christ is relentlessly, overwhelmingly and egregiously brutal both to its protagonist and its audience's senses. This movie is little else besides a depiction of punishment so ruthless and unyielding that watching it unfold feels like punishment."
bullet Negative Newsweek: David Ansen wrote: "The relentless gore is self-defeating. Instead of being moved by Christ's suffering or awed by his sacrifice, I felt abused by a filmmaker intent on punishing an audience, for who knows what sins." 8
bullet Negative Slate: "A  two hour and six minute snuff movie -- 'The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre'." 1
bullet Negative The Toronto Star: "If yours is a spirituality, as Mel Gibson's must certainly be, based on the presumption that salvation is only possible after suffering, you might well find something like grace lurking in Mr. Gibson's dark and bloody spectacle. If not, you're in for one of the most unremittingly cruel movie experiences this side of the (considerably less pious but more fun) remake of the 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'....the inescapable conclusion to be reached by the movie's blunt expositional technique is that Christ died because the Jews demanded one sequence, Judas is even hounded by Yarmulke -wearing Jewish children who morph into Satanic sprites....If the 'Passion of the Christ' is worrisome on the basis that it will preach successfully beyond the realm of the converted, that seems unlikely. If you're not already inclined to Gibson's brand of hardgore [sic] fundamentalism, this certainly won't win you over. However, if torture is your idea of redemption, you can get it here on both sides of the screen" 2
bullet Negative The Toronto Star: "The planet seems to be going through some bitter religious convulsion, but if Christian audiences end up tolerating Mel's movie -- nobody else will who doesn't have a very sick mind -- and if they feel something approaching rapture in witnessing this movie-set pain, and if this pain inspires them, they are as hardcore as the fanatics they condemn in any other religion...If there were such a think as a Christian Taliban -- and there may very well be -- he [Gibson] has made a training film that will stoke the hate they live on and the blood revenge they live for." 3
bullet Positive "The buzz is that this film is a life changing experience and is anti-Semitic. I disagree on both counts. It is however, a powerful and effective illustration of John 3:16."
bullet Positive USA Today: "Despite controversies swirling around the movie, one cannot deny that Gibson has made a stunning film, beautifully photographed in contrasting dark and golden hues by Caleb Deschanel."
bullet Positive Wall Street Journal: "...a surgical marketing campaign that has zeroed in on the Christian market and built a deafening buzz...taking even Hollywood by surprise." 1

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  1. Quoted in Antonia Zerbisias, "Gibson flogs way to bank," The Toronto Star, 2004-FEB-26, Page A23.
  2. Geoff Pevere, "A dark and bloody spectacle. As sex is to the body in hardcore porn, violence is to the ruin of the body of Christ in the Passion. That makes Mel Gibson's new film a work of fundamentalist pornography," The Toronto Star, 2004-FEB-25, Page A3.
    Slinger, "Watching Mel's 'Passion'? It's an act of self-flagellation," The Toronto Star, 2004-FEB-26, Page A2.
  3. "The Passion of The Christ (2004)," Yahoo! Movies, 2004-FEB-25, at:
  4. Phil Kloer, "The Passion of the Christ," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2004-FEB-25, at:
  5. "Nothing exceeds like Mel Gibson's excess," Associated Press, 2004-FEB-29.
  6. Danny Minton, "The Passion of The Christ," KBTV-NBC Beaumont, TX.
  7. "The Passion of the Christ (2004),", at:
  8. Roger Ebert, "The Passion of the Christ," 2004-FEB-24, at:

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 Home > World religions > Judaism > "The Passion" > here

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Copyright 2004 & 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-FEB-24
Latest update: 2005-MAY-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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