It was as awful as I expected. At least, I think it was. I kept my eyes closed though the gruesome scenes, but they still sounded horrific. I got a phone call during the carnage and was actually grateful to escape to the lobby for conversation and a few moments of bloodless daylight.
However, it's a well-made film. The acting was at times excellent; I particularly liked Pontus Pilate (Hristo Naumov Shopov) and his wife Claudia (Claudia Gerini)...they were superb. The special effects, gory as they were, were also well done. And the makeup had better get a nomination is all I can say. And if it wins, maybe I'll be able to shake this image of ribs showing through skin.
Still, it's going to be hard for people to seperate the passion from the production. This is the sort of film that can't be separated from its subject matter (like, say, The Godfather, where regardless of your opinion about the Mafia, you can still appreciate the film as a good film), and people will love it or hate it based on what it's about rather than what it is. One gripe I have is, like LotR and the upcoming Troy, I know the basic story, but I can't remember all the characters' names. Passion has this annoying habit of having people show up but not telling you who they are; you're supposed to just know who they are because you know the story. Well, I can't remember the name of the woman who had the Shroud of Turin, and I can't remember the name of the innocent bystander guy who helped carry the cross. I know I know them, I've heard of them, but it would have been nice to have a little, subtle reminder. Not everyone who sees this movie lives and breathes this stuff. Nor do they want to. While I suspect this film's hidden agenda is to convert the heathen masses to Christianity, having seen it makes me less likely to convert than ever before; if anything, it makes me more curious about Judaism. Not the reaction I think Mel Gibson was going for, exactly...
It was an interesting story. But then, I happen to like mythology.