Saw the movie on Ash Wednesday. I'm posting some thoughts/observations for those of you on the fence about seeing it, or for those who saw it and wish to comment as well.
It was a very good film for the most part, with some tremendous actors. My main complaint about it is that it was way too bloody, much more than necessary. It actually made me feel uncomfortable, enough to look away once in a while. The focus was too much on the actual physical pain, and left the other big parts, Jesus' teaching and The Resurrection, almost completely unexplored. There should have been a stronger focus on his teachings, which would have balanced the film out. There's a short piece at the end, obviously, where its apparent he has been resurrected, but its quite short.
I think this even as a Roman Catholic, a religion that does not hide the physical side of Jesus' suffering in its art and writing (unlike the Protestant churches) and also has a ceremony replicating the suffering Jesus underwent.
Does it make the Jews look bad? Well, that depends. The Bible says they pushed for his crucifixion, and Pontius Pilate agreed after initially refusing. That's what the movie shows. The Jewish priests were afraid of his heretical teachings and growing popularity-this part I felt could have been explained a bit better, for those not familiar with the history. But it also makes the Romans look just as bad, maybe even worse- sadistic, vicious people who whip Jesus for close to 30 min of the whole film and ultimately crucify him with glee. (BTW, the film was shot in italy w/ mostly Italian actors, and so far no complaints from Italians. Of course, Judaism is still a distinct religion while Italians are not exactly Romans anymore). Really, the whole argument over who was responsible for Christ's crucifixion is something that will be debated forever (or at least until the final judgement). THere is never going to be a straight answer.
Another thing I didn't like was the portrayal of Pontius pilate as a rational man intent only on doing what was appropriate, and doing it only after serious thought. In reality Pilate was a vicious commander and probably not a sensitive soul.
I would recommend it, if only to see the portrayal of one of the most (if not THE most),important historical events ever. For those who were not history majors such as myself or don't read a lot of history, it should open your eyes and help illustrate why this event was so important and is so controversial.