Well, I finally sucked it up and watched the Passion of the Christ, just to see what the hype was all about. Was it truly so brilliant/evil/gory/amazing?
Unfortunately, I can't say it's much of anything special.
Gore? Yeah, but after a few blows (which start raining down early on in the movie), I just tuned it out. Granted I like gory movies, and have seen my fair share of horror movies, so I didn't think it was that bad - but honestly - totally not as horrid as I'd expected - Jesus is so covered with blood by about 30 minutes into the movie (and this all happens rapidly) that you don't notice his further torment.
Religiousness? Eh. Not enough about Jesus's message and too much about his crucifixion. He seemed more human than divine to me, a man in pain, crying out to God just like anyone else would in that situation. He didn't perform miracles in this movie. The flashbacks were too few and far between to be effective in portraying him as the Son of God. The devil is hysterically funny - not even remotely scary, in its androgeneous guise.
Anti-Semitism? Well, it wins here. Yup, the MOST anti-semitic movie that I've seen...distinctly portrays the Jews as wanting his crucifixion and the Romans as being initially reluctant to do that to him. They continue to mock his belief in his messianic status throughout the movie. In short - if I didn't know any Jews and I watched this movie as a fundamentalist Christian, I'd think Jews were evil.
Finally, the worst part of this movie - Mary. Although I haven't read the New Testament in any great depth, I always sympathized with Mary. Not after watching this. She stands passively by, watching for hours as her son is beaten to almost to death, forced to bear the cross, and crucified. What kind of mother would do that to her son? Is this some sort of Abraham-Isaac take on the story of Jesus? Only in this version, the twisted God forces his own son to go through the suffering that he spared both Abraham and Isaac, while Mary stands idly by, uninterested in the fate of her son - acceptant of the fact that he has to suffer for the sins of mankind, since she is included in that group. Sure she cries...but that simply isn't enough. Her best effort is 'my son, let me die with you', but this is uttered after his crucifixion.
If there was ever a movie that pushed me away from Christianity, it is the Passion. Give me Ben Hur anyday, and let the fundies keep their pain-wracked, impotent Jesus all to themselves. The God of Christianity as portrayed in this movie seems to be an even more vengeful God than that of the Old Testament, taking it out on his only son. I didn't ask Jesus to die for my sins, and certainly don't want to be a part of a religion that thinks such suffering is somehow divine. I'll handle my own sins, thank you very much.